How is period poverty being addressed in educational spaces?
Stigmas surrounding periods affect many students, how is this being addressed in schools?
There is a fight against period stigmas that affect students daily, according to representatives of a period dignity campaign at Cardiff University.
Students who menstruate can receive free sustainable period products and guidance on menstrual health at the Students Union as part of their period dignity campaign, which is held once a month.
“A few years ago there was a lot of publicity surrounding girls missing school because they couldn’t afford menstrual products,” said Sarah Merry, who is Cardiff City councilor.
“We are also fighting to get free period products across campus,” said Daisy Tipping, who is the Students Union’s women’s officer.
The initiative behind the campaign is to talk about menstrual health in a safe and dignified way that beats stigmas surrounding the subject.
Students can collect the period products at different collection points in the SU including the public toilets, the Welcome Centre, and the Student Advice office.
Cardiff City Council has also carried out new schemes to tackle period poverty in schools throughout the city to help girls and young women reach their potential.
Data that was collected by the city council showed that almost a third of students currently feel that their period impacts negatively on their school attendance. While 40 percent felt their periods had negatively impacted their school performance
“A few years ago there was a lot of publicity surrounding girls missing school because they couldn’t afford menstrual products,” said Sarah Merry, who is Cardiff City councilor. “We started the journey there after hearing that by collecting data and talking to people in schools first to understand what we needed to do.”
The city council since then has created a program where free feminine hygiene products and funding for additional sanitary bins are rolled out to primary, secondary, and special schools.
Cardiff’s period dignity initiative has seen an investment of almost £1.5million, providing those who need them with access to free period products.
“Just simply having conversations about something that seems ‘taboo’ helps people learn about period products and it crucially teaches them that it is a normal part of everyday life,” said Merry.
Stigmas about periods can lead those who menstruate to experience many setbacks in their daily life including a lack of education about menstruation and a lack of knowledge of options for period management.
Programs such as the SU’s period dignity stall and the city council’s period dignity scheme are established to help address issues surrounding period poverty.
“It’s all about the principle of making sure we’re hearing back from girls themselves on what’s happening on the ground about what they need and what they want in order to continue our scheme,” said Merry.