The United Kingdom government introduced a new scheme that would provide free period products to those who are unable to access them.
When those who menstruate do not have access to affordable period products, they tend to miss out on five days of school or work. Menstruators, therefore, end up two months behind their non-menstruating peers over the course of a year. This is known as period poverty. About three years ago, the United Kingdom realized that this was such a pervasive issue in their schools, that the country decided to take action. Last year, they announced a government program that would make period products free in schools across the United Kingdom. Now, that contentious program has finally come into effect, the BBC reports.
The program allots certain "period product budgets" to schools in the European country. Then, these schools can choose to spend this budget on a diverse range of available period products. This budget must be used entirely on period products and cannot be redirected to other spending buckets if schools opt for the program. Some of the available products include applicator and non-applicator tampons, single-use and reusable pads, and even menstrual cups. While the program is voluntary and not necessarily enforced on all schools, proponents of the scheme have urged educational institutions to opt-in. These campaigners have warned that choosing not to do so could lead to serious disadvantages for the school's students. From falling grade averages to lower attendance rates, the availability of period products can affect several aspects of a menstruator's academic life.
Furthermore, placing orders is an easy process. School administration officials simply need to log on to an online system in order to commission a new delivery. Alternatively, schools could choose to place orders via email or telephone. The pre-determined budget handed to schools by the UK government for the year 2020 is based on the assumption that about 35 percent of all students who menstruate will use the free period products. Since these products are available at a range of various prices, it will be up to individual schools to choose how to spend their money and on what.
The flame to bridge the gaps of period poverty was first ignited in the United Kingdom by Amika George. Then, she was 17 years old and trying to raise awareness about the issue so as to develop a policy to solve it. Now, 20 years old, she has finally transformed her advocacy into actionable legislation. According to Lynda Erroi, head of year seven at Southam College in Warwickshire, this policy will make academic life easier for a lot of young students. "This will reduce the stress for any student who is trying hard to attend school when period products are an issue in their life," she affirmed. "Staff will also feel more empowered that they are able to request supplies and support a child's needs." Finally, menstruators can focus on attending school and learning instead of worrying about the next time they are on their period. The United Kingdom joins Wales in providing menstruators with a simplified way to fight against period poverty.