Primary schools in England are set to provide sanitary products from the start of next year for all students as part of the Department of Education’s (DoE) next move to eradicate period poverty.
The DoE had previously announced plans to roll out free sanitary wear across secondary schools but will now create provisions for menstruating people of all ages.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi explained in a statement that they hope the move will eliminate period poverty and increase attendance – as many young people without sanitary wear feel forced to miss school out of shame.
“This government is determined to ensure that no one should be held back from reaching their potential – and wants everyone to lead active, healthy, happy lives.
“That is why earlier this year we committed to fully fund access to free sanitary products in all secondary schools and colleges in England,” Zahawi said.
Period Poverty Across The UK
Credit: Skye Baker Illustrator
This government is determined to ensure that no one should be held back from reaching their potential – and wants everyone to lead active, healthy, happy lives.
Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi
Products will be available in most primary schools – more than 20,000 – across England.
The DoE spoke to students, teachers and parents before making the decision and found that in some instances, teachers were paying for sanitary products out of their own pockets because some families simply could not afford it.
The move comes after Scotland began providing free sanitary products in all schools, colleges, and universities as part of a £5.2 million scheme last year.
Wales also announced last week it would be providing free sanitary wear for primary and secondary school students.
Period poverty should never be a barrier to education.
#FreePeriods founder, Amika George
One in 10 women aged 14 – 21 are unable to afford sanitary wear, according to PLAN International, and 12 per cent have resorted to creating protection out of wads of tissues because they are unable to afford sanitary products.
The decision to continue rollouts across more areas has been praised by campaigners, who believe that without proper access to sanitary wear young people will not be awarded the education they deserve.
“This is fantastic news and we’re so glad that the government has extended this pledge to primary schools. Period poverty should never be a barrier to education,” said Amika George, the founder of #FreePeriods.
“With free access to menstrual products for every child in compulsory education, every student can go to school without the anxiety or stress of worrying where their next pad or tampon will come from.”