Despite the on and off stigma of periods and talking about them that you grow up with if you are a vagina bearer, periods are still a thing that half of the population get and cannot just turn off at the switch of a button. Everybody’s periods are different – they can range in how long they’re around for, how heavy they are, different intensity of period cramps, different period symptoms/PMS to go alongside it and the time between them can be different too. But almost every person with a menstrual cycle invests in some sort of sanitary product. Whether it’s towels, tampons, reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups etc. etc. It’s a necessity to bring comfort, hygiene and peace of mind to the person on their period. So how come access to sanitary products is starting to become harder for school girls in Leeds?
It’s not the first people have heard of teenagers missing out on education or school because of their body’s natural cycle. In rural Uganda girls miss around eight days of school due to lack of resources, in Garissa, Kenya 86% report missing school due to periods and in India 23% of girls drop out when they start menstruating. Isn’t that crazy? Girls/young people with vaginas should not miss out on getting an education just because of how their body works. Nobody chooses to have a period, right? This kind of problem is slowly creeping up on our doorstep! It’s been reported recently that in Britain, specifically Leeds, students are relying on their teachers to provide sanitary products or not coming to school at all during their period. Some of the students approached in this research explained they come from families maybe with a single parent or multiple siblings and when short on money it can be hard to get the sanitary products needed when they are on their periods.
I found this news quite sad because like I mentioned, nobody chooses to have a period and it must be quite upsetting to get into trouble for attendance when it’s just your body doing what it’s meant to do! So I decided I wanted to do something, even if it’s just blog posts to raise awareness, or get people talking more about periods and sanitary products, or try and raise some money to send off products to charities that specialize in providing people who have limited or no access to products with said products!
Today I put up a survey on my Facebook asking people to fill in a couple of questions that cover how many products you use on one period, have you ever found yourself in a place where you’ve had to makeshift something when you’re bleeding and can’t access a product, what age did you start requiring them and such. I got such a good response back, I’m so unbelievably happy and surprised! I hope to write a blogpost tomorrow, properly going over the numbers but so far I’ve noticed one common pattern – everybody agrees people should have access to free sanitary products and almost everyone feels like their high school didn’t do much to provide access to products/feel comfortable asking. Which made me kind of sad but more determined to start a discussion.
So what do I plan to try and do? Well tomorrow/Monday I will write up properly my findings on it! As well as that I’m trying to contact some local organisations that take in donations of pads/sanitary products for tips on raising awareness! Watch this space!
Thank you for reading,