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Sanitary protection is not a choice…Period

Posted on 17 Aug 2017
Period Poverty

Free female sanitary products are being made available in North Ayrshire’s secondary schools in a bid to stamp out ‘period poverty’.

The local authority has launched the initiative - thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland - to give young women and girls struggling to afford basic sanitary products access to a free supply of towels and tampons at their secondary school.

The move comes in recognition of the growing issue of ‘period poverty’ whereby girls and women across Scotland are using unsuitable items such as newspaper and toilet paper instead of proper hygiene products simply because they cannot afford to buy them.  Evidence exists that across the country some are even avoiding school during their monthly cycle to avoid any undue embarrassment.

The Council’s ground breaking initiative will see the introduction of free sanitary products in all nine of their secondary schools.  It aims to ensure that female pupils are treated with dignity and respect as they make the transition into adulthood, regardless of their personal circumstances.

Pupils will be able to access the free sanitary products via vending machines in the school toilets.

Speaking at the launch of the sanitary protection initiative, Council Leader Joe Cullinane, said: “Female hygiene products are a necessity, not a choice.  No young women should be faced with the embarrassment of improper sanitary protection simply because they cannot afford it.  It’s an issue that no female should ever have to face – at school, or in their lifetime.

“This new initiative aims to address that, while ensuring that pupils don’t miss out on their education over a basic human need.  Periods are not exempt from poverty, they don’t take account of what is in your pocket or purse.  It is therefore absolutely right that we should look at ways in which to tackle this gendered inequality.

“We want to reassure any pupil experiencing this difficulty that we are here to support them with this initiative.

“As a Council we are doing a great deal of work to tackle poverty in our communities and this initiative is just one in a number of ways we are working to reduce poverty and build a better future for our young people.”

Launching at Irvine Royal Academy, the initiative will see free sanitary products available in all of North Ayrshire’s secondary schools.

Irvine Royal’s Headteacher, Alison Crawford, welcomed the introduction.  She said: “As a female, I can’t imagine any young girl or woman having to be faced with the issue of ‘period poverty’.

“I’m proud that our schools are taking a stand against this and providing pupils the support and dignity they deserve.

“We are here to help and to listen.  So as well as providing a supply of sanitary towels or tampons, pupils can also chat to staff about any concerns they have and we’ll support them the best we can.”