Government funding for free sanitary products in all English secondary schools and colleges has been welcomed as a “huge step” by campaigners. 19 year old Amika George, who started campaigning on period poverty two years ago, said the move would make a “massive difference” to girls who struggled to afford tampons and pads.
But campaigners said it should also include primary schools.
Chancellor Philip Hammond made the announcement in his Spring Statement this week. He said the government was responding to concerns from head teachers that some girls were missing school because they could not afford sanitary products.
Reports say that one in 10 girls between the ages of 14 and 21 in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary products, while 49% have missed an entire day of school because of their period. This was brought to public attention by Amika George, who was inspired to start campaigning on the issue after reading about period poverty in the news. She said she was “shocked” to find out girls were missing school because of not having sanitary products.
In 2017 she started a petition calling for the government to fund free sanitary products in schools, using social media to build support for her campaign. Just a few months later she organised a protest outside Downing Street which attracted around 2,000 people. In January this year she launched a legal campaign alongside the Red Box Project and The Pink Protest, arguing that period poverty was denying some girls their right to an education.
The news means that from September, girls in schools and colleges across England will be able to access free sanitary products from their school.