International Women’s Day on Sunday gives us a chance to reflect on the achievements made towards gender equality, including tackling the issue of period poverty – something that can affect anyone who menstruates. The National Lottery Community Fund colleagues have been looking at the great work groups are doing in the community to fight this issue head on.
Last year, we asked activist, Victoria Heaney, to come in to chat to TNLCF staff all about the #FreePeriodScotland research project. The aim of the research was to engage with a cross-sectional group of people who experienced periods. They wanted to understand if period poverty existed, if it was prevalent to people in Scotland and to identify barriers people face when trying to access period products.
The findings included that
‘Almost 1 in 5 of participants had experienced ‘period poverty’ at one point in their lives. Many discussed feelings of stigma and shame they felt when on their period.‘
The research and publicity that was generated from the #FreePeriodScotland movement, led to a number of groups emerging to try and tackle ‘period poverty’. National Lottery funded Hey Girls CIC was established to develop and deliver free educational resources, online information and workshops for schools about menstrual health.
We chatted to Molly Brown, Education and Impact Manager at Hey Girls CIC about the work they have been doing to tackle period poverty who told us
“We are a social enterprise on a mission to eradicate period poverty in the UK. We make and donate plastic-free period products, and our Buy One Give One business model means that for every pack that we sell we donate a pack to someone who needs it.”
“Hey Girls works closely with our network of over 200 donation partners (food banks, youth clubs, women’s refuges, schools etc) to ensure everyone can access period products with dignity. Alongside this we run an education programme to break down stigma and get the conversation started!”.
We discussed their work at a community level and what projects could be doing to help end period poverty.
“Community projects are so important – as places for people to access products, and as places where the stigma of periods can start to be broken down.”
“We work closely with community centres, youth clubs, and local projects across Scotland to provide training about how to start a positive conversation about periods. This can be essential in ensuring people get the support they need to have good menstrual health”.
Eager to hear more about how community projects tackle period poverty, we reached out to Mohammed Razaq at National Lottery funded West of Scotland Regional Equality Council. The project strives to create inclusive societies, free of discrimination and prejudice so we were keen to hear how they help reduce Period Poverty in their work.
“Our organisation obtained a supply of products to make them available to all staff and visitors to the building. We placed them in the toilets in transparent boxes and posters making it clear that the products are free and full packs could also be obtained by speaking to our admin staff”
When asked how the organisation feels about the work of the project in tackling Period Poverty, he said that many of their clients were often vulnerable and could be living in an environment that purchasing sanitary products was a luxury. He hoped that by different places offering free products it could help alleviate the worries involved at an already difficult time.
“It may help if public buildings and city centre stores have supplies that can be given out free on request, or have free dispensers in shopping centres, health centres/community centres and localities as well – in locations where people may feel more comfortable visiting when accessing the products. This may also help alleviate some of the stigma (perceived or otherwise) associated from purchasing period products. Dispensers also remove social interaction from the process, which may help those of feel uncomfortable interacting with others when buying the products.”
We are so proud to be able to work with inspiring projects like these, and many more. Tackling period poverty is just one thing we can do to create a fairer and more equal society… period.