Can you afford to have periods?
For many of us, buying femcare like pads and tampons is merely an inconvenience. We might stock up while we’re doing our weekly shop or throw a box in the basket as we’re buying shampoo. Maybe we fork out £5 here and £10 there without much thought, or maybe we look out for deals and bulk buy when we can. But no matter which way you look at it, taken over months and years, it all adds up to a huge sum of money. During her lifetime, the average woman will spend £18,000 on femcare – that’s about a year and a half’s salary on the current living wage.
At Callaly we dedicate ourselves to making sure that if people are spending their hard-earned cash on period products, those products should be of excellent quality and do their job properly. But while we’re encouraging women to stop settling for femcare that is just ok, thousands of girls don’t even have access to that. A recent study by Plan International found that 1 in 10 girls in the UK are living in such poverty that they can’t afford proper femcare. In practice this means that thousands of girls as young as 10 are missing school during their period, while others are using socks or wads of toilet roll as makeshift pads to get them through the day.
The #freeperiods campaign aims to solve this problem by giving free femcare to all schoolgirls who qualify for free school meals, and we think it’s an excellent idea. The movement has been kickstarted by 17-year-old activist Amika George, who felt she needed to take action after learning about period poverty from a BBC article. Over the past few weeks we’ve been really inspired by Amika’s proactive approach to making the world a bit better for people with periods.
To show our support we’ll be marching tonight and signing the #freeperiods petition, but we’re also committed to helping reduce period poverty for girls and women of all ages, all over the world. This week we’re packing up nearly 15,000 organic tampons and setting off around London to deliver them to charities where they can be redistributed to the women who need them most. We’ll be stopping at Bloody Good Period, Southall Black Sisters, Bethany House and Solace, all charities who do excellent work in this area.
If you want to help eradicate period poverty, there are a number of small, simple actions you can take today. You can sign the #freeperiods petition and join us at the march this evening – don’t forget to wear red! You can also email your local MP or contact Education Secretary Justine Greening to ask her to provide free femcare to girls who receive free school meals. And finally, as Amika George says, you can just talk about periods more. The less stigma that surrounds this totally normal biological process, the less opportunity there is for women to be shamed, controlled and restricted. Having a period is as natural as taking a breath. No girl should be penalised for that.