Period poverty has been high on the political agenda since it hit headlines in 2017 after a survey by Plan International which found that as many as one in 10 girls and women aged 14 to 21 were unable to afford period products, with 12 per cent having to improvise with makeshift menstrual protection such as toilet roll, socks and even newspapers. It is an issue that the government are keen to address, announcing in March 2019 a global campaign to eliminate period poverty by 2030 in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
More recently, the focus has been on addressing period poverty in education. In spring 2019, the Government announced that access to free period products would be funded across primary and secondary schools and colleges in England. The commitment also includes the publication of guidance for schools and colleges to support them in delivering the scheme.
In September 2019, the Department for Education commissioned Hopscotch to conduct research which engaged with prospective users of the scheme to ensure their needs and thoughts were reflected in the guidance. Hopscotch carried out an online forum with over 60 young people from across England between the ages of 9 and 19, exploring learners’ attitudes to periods.
The research aimed to gain a greater understanding and insight into young people’s attitudes towards periods, and how they wanted the scheme to be implemented in their schools and colleges. This research has been used to inform the department’s scheme guidance and can be found here.
Tiffany Barwick, Business Director at Hopscotch says:
“Through the work we do at Hopscotch, we’re very aware of the continuing stigma in tackling the conversation around periods in education. By conducting this research with learners from all backgrounds and regions, we were able to gain invaluable insight and ensure the guidance published has the learners’ needs at its centre.”
State schools and colleges in England can now order free period products for students as part of the government scheme to tackle period poverty, which launched today (Monday 20th January), with tampons, pads and menstrual cups all available for primary and secondary institutions to order if they opt in. Schools will be able to choose from a range of items using an online system, with products supplied by phs Group.
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