JUST FILL IN THE FORM, BABES!
Dear MP Nadhim Zahawi
We are writing to ask for your support in conveying the urgent need for the UK Government to recommit to tackling period poverty and inequality - at a time when more people are being forced to choose between daily essentials, including period products.
It has almost been three years since the UK Government committed to ending period poverty and shame in the UK by 2025. It is now 2022 and limited progress has been made on period inequality in England. The combined impact of the pandemic plus the current cost of living crisis means that need is even higher than when this pledge was made. Yet in reality, very limited progress has been made on period poverty in England, with a huge impact on the lives of women and people who menstruate.
The positive steps of the removal of the tampon tax, and provision of period products to schools and within the NHS, do not tackle period poverty for the many and varied groups of people who experience it. Having a normal bodily function is still financially penalised and stigmatised for many people who are not in schools or accessing healthcare (and both of these schemes have limitations, including the hugely increased waiting lists for health services, which means they are not fully meeting needs for those groups)1. Meanwhile, inflation has removed any affordability gains from the tampon tax abolition. As one of our partner organisations has summarised:
“Some families couldn’t even afford the bus fare to come and pick up products from us, if they can’t even afford that, paying for a period is going to be a problem.”
Charities and community organisations are supporting people using foodbanks, new mothers, survivors of domestic abuse, families and refugees and asylum-seekers- all groups for whom there is no formal government provision of period products. Although the government has stated this is an issue it takes “very seriously”, the steps it has taken to address the problem are not enough. Charities and community organisations are filling the gap - whilst also struggling with inflation, rising costs, decreased funding opportunities and spiralling demand.
We would very much appreciate it if you would speak out against the lack of action around period poverty– including by raising these points directly with the Minister for Women and Equalities, who is being asked to:
Recommit to the UK Government's vision of ending period poverty and shame in the UK by 2025
Recommit the pledged £250,000 tackle period poverty for all (not towards existing programmes which focus solely on students and patients)
Agree to provide further funding for the urgent provision of period products to everyone who needs them, given the current and unfolding crisis situations described here
Provide clarity on whether the Government is actively monitoring period poverty, and if not, make an active commitment to do so.
We hope you will be able to support these requests. Any support you can offer to raise concerns about the government’s inaction on period poverty would be hugely welcomed.
We look forward to hearing from you.
With warm wishes
Bloody Good Period and Supporters
Limitations of existing period product provision:
Free period products in schools: Only 50% of eligible schools and organisations opted into the free period product scheme in 2021 - from the Department of Education’s report
Period product provision via healthcare: gynaecology waiting lists across the UK are just over a 60% increase on pre-pandemic levels, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ report.