How, in 2019, Do we still have Period Poverty?
It is 2019. In the past ten years humanity has come so far. We carry around a computer in our pockets that is around the size of our hand, we have FaceTime meaning we can video chat someone across the other side of the world, Hell, we even have a Robot in our houses, we call Alexa, who is one program away from making us our breakfast in the morning.
Yet somewhere in the depths of London there is a 13 year old girl who cannot afford to pay for sanitary items. How is this even happening in this day and age?
But that’s the thing… it is not just one girl. Around 10% of teenagers can’t afford or do not have access to sanitary products and around 12% have to improve with what they use!
How the hell is this possible!?!
When I first heard of The Red Box Project around 7-8 months ago I was shocked that even such thing needed to exist.
In January 2001 the UK Government reduce tax on Tampons to 5%. Last year we saw Supermarket chains such as Tesco totally get on board with the ridiculousness of the Tampon Tax and, in fact, reduced their prices of Tampons by 5% to effectively alleviate the tax cost to customers.
This was a great step in the right direction and one that was applauded by its customers but it wasn’t enough.
I got in touch with Aimee Margott, Coordinator for The Red Box Project Folkestone and Instagram Coordinator for The
Red Box Project HQ, to discuss the situation and a get a low down on the facts.
She gave me some shocking info.
What is period poverty?
Period poverty is when people can’t afford period products. According to a survey carried out by Plan International UK in 2017, over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty. 10% can’t afford to buy menstrual products, 1 in 7 have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues, 12% have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues and 1 in 5 have had to change to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.
Personally, I have spoken to people of all ages who have told me stories about how they have had to or are currently managing their period including resulting to stealing products from the shop, skipping school and using socks to manage their periods when access to suitable period products aren’t available. This was more than enough reason for me, alongside many other of our coordinators, to want to do something to help and this is how I became involved with The Red Box Project.
What is The Red Box Project?
The Red Box Project is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free period products to schools to ensure that no young person misses out on their education because of their period.
What are your goals?
The Red Box Project want to eradicate period poverty. We wish for a world where The Red Box Project isn’t needed but, unfortunately, we are. Don’t get us wrong, we love that we get to help and provide period products to those who need it, but our overall goal is for the government to fulfil their legal responsibility and supply free period products to all across the UK.
What do you do and how are you impacting your local community?
We have red boxes at our donation points all over the UK (and overseas) that the wonderful community can visit to drop off their kind donations. When these red boxes are full, they are emptied and distributed to schools in the local area. The boxes include sanitary towels, tampons, knickers, hygiene wipes, disposable bags and brown paper bags for storing the products in. These paper bags will have a heart sticker on the front and a motivational message like ‘you are brave’ to let them know people are thinking of them and that we care.
In Folkestone alone, we have 8 schools on board and 1 youth club, some we have already needed to top up and we only started in June 2018. We have members of the local community contacting us wanting to help raise funds to keep the project stocked with period products. They have organised themselves, events including cake sales and raffles, to name a few, with the money coming directly to The Red Box Project Folkestone.
Local businesses have also gotten involved and have given some of the profits to us including, Milk and Moon, who made a pin badge, and A Lovely Little Art Room, who makes cute art boxes. They have recently put together an art box to sew your own reusable sanitary towel.
We have 11 donation points which include a theatre, a wellbeing centre, churches and private work collections. We get stopped in the street and told how wonderful the project is and thanking us for our hard work.
We love being a part of a community that are so kind and generous.
Why are you raising money/campaigning and what is the money going towards?
So, it is now time for us to take legal action to end period poverty.
The Scottish government has ensured free access to period products in all schools, colleges and universities.
The Welsh government has pledged £1m to address period poverty.
It is now time that the English government stand up and recognised they have a legal responsibility and address how they will end period poverty.
The funds raised are to allow us to take this a step further and ensure that we have a strong legal case. We needed to reach our £10,000 target by the 7 th February 2019 and with the generosity and support received, we have already hit target in less than a week. We now have a new target to aim for and to help us reach this you can donate here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/freeperiods/
The fact that the people have to raise a legal campaign against the government to get this recognised appalls me.
The Red Box Project is not alone though.
#FreePeriods was set up by 18 year old Amika George to initially fight this battle. Amika’s intention is that ALL schoolchildren will be able to access menstrual products in ALL school toilets. Following the success for the Free Periods Protest a year ago which saw 2000 young people march on Parliament and a petition that secured 200,000 signatures.
It is 2019 and the majority of us are sitting on our laptop, probably with a cuppa or a glass of wine, whilst this is actually happening. Here… in the UK! The 5th richest economy in the world!!
And it is so easy to do something about! Donating a pack of sanitary items or by donating money to the campaign!
I always remember being at school and being so embarrassed when you were on your period and had to go out mid lesson. You’d go into your bag and everyone would know you were ‘on’. Or you’d take your bag with you. But if there was a FREE dispenser in the toilets it would mean girls could feel more at ease with it all and it could potentially eliminate one whole element of anxiety in the teenage world!
How amazing would that be!?
We….Us…. can actually do something to help… like actually help!!!
We never think we really can…not really!
But you really really can! The money you give will directly pay for a legal case. Just a reminder- donate here; https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/freeperiods/