18-Year-Old Leads #FreePeriods Protest Against Period Poverty On Westminster
"Toilet paper is free in schools, so why not sanitary products?"
As anyone who's ever had a period knows, menstruation is expensive. So expensive, in fact, that girls from around the UK were recently found to be skipping school because of period poverty - that is not being able to afford to buy feminine hygiene products.
So what can you actually do about it? Look no further than 18-year-old Amika George, who joined with Scarlett Curtis and Grace Campbell to lead a group of women (and men) on Downing Street in London last night to call for Prime Minister Theresa May to take action against period poverty and supply free feminine hygiene products to all girls in the UK who receive free school meals.
Are these period myths real or fake? Let us know below...
The #FreePeriods protest asked demonstrators to wear red to "show the British Government that we're not afraid of blood and they shouldn't be either" and included famous faces among the protestors that included Daisy Lowe, Tanya Burr, Suki Waterhouse and Adwoa Aboah.
If you're still slightly wondering why tampon tax and period poverty is such a big issue, the problem isn't just that funding your period is expensive and fundamentally sexist (because it's not something we choose to have happen to us and is something men will never have to pay for in their lifetime), it's that feminine hygiene products are also classed as a luxury good, therefore meaning that you're taxed on them in a way you wouldn't if they were classed as what they are: a necessary health care item.
So not only are we having to pay for them at all, but we're having to pay more just to be able to live our lives and be able to go out to school and work while we're on our periods.
This is also a cost that adds up over your lifetime, meaning that actually compared to your male counterparts who will never have to pay for a necessity on a par with this, you're going to be less well off purely because of your biology.
Back in March one teenage girl spoke to BBC Radio Leeds about the realities of trying to cope without tampons, sanitary towels or pain relief, and said: "I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn't want to get shouted at. And I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home. I once Sellotaped tissue to my underwear. I didn't know what else to do.
"I kept this secret up until I was 14 years old and then I started asking for help. I didn't get any money because my mum was a single parent and she had five mouths to feed, so there wasn't much leftover money in the pot to be giving to us."
And as Jess Phillips MP, a campaigner on the issue and speaker at the protest, points out: "Toilet paper is free in schools, so why not sanitary products?"
Naturally the signs the protestors came armed with were bloody brilliant too, so here's a look at a few of the best messages from the night:
Want to get involved in ending period poverty? Here's a few things you - yeah, YOU - can do rn:
1. Sign the petition
It's already got 92k signatures so get yours on there and let Theresa May know what you think. Find it HERE.
2. Email your MP and Justine Greening
Your MP represents you therefore has a duty to address the issues their constituents are concerned about, so get in touch with them! Justine Greening is the Secretary of Stat for Education and the person you need to speak up and ask to make this happen. Freeperiods have infor on how to do this and what to say HERE.
Or else get right up in her Twitter mentions with this handy tweet template about the issue.
3. Follow The Pink Protest's advice...
They know what's what: