Did you know that every period, on average, costs around £11? That’s about £4,800 in a lifetime.
According to a 2017 study, one in ten teenage girls has been unable to afford sanitary products at some point, 12% have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues, and some avoid school altogether while on their period, as they will not risk the embarrassment. While some steps have been taken to reduce the financial burden menstruation causes, such as some supermarkets removing the ‘Tampon Tax’, it is still the case that the time of the month is a source of dread for many teenage girls, whose parents cannot afford to spend a lot of money on sanitary products – especially if they have more than one daughter.
An initiative to end period poverty in Liverpool was initially piloted in the south of the city, in the Princes Park ward. Cllr Anna Rothery, Mayoral Lead for Equalities, led the project, the main aim of which was to find out the need for sanitary products, and determine where they could be distributed from.
It became very clear when interviewing the women and girls that using schools as a hub for distribution was inappropriate. The main issues included the fear of bullying if anyone found out, the stigma surrounding it, and the worry that people would find out their family didn’t have any money.
Community organisations that already had existing links with women and girls were much preferred; they were deemed less stressful and judgemental, confidentiality was more assured, and the fact that the girls’ mothers could collect the items for them meant the stress was lifted from the girls themselves.
Over 400 products were eventually given out; once word travelled, it became very popular, highlighting that there is an absolute need for sanitary product distribution. The products in the Princes Park initiative were gifted by St Andrews in Clubmoor, who have offered to help with collection and distribution in the initiative.
Cllr Rothery has asked councillors to band together to fight period poverty across the city, and to make a contribution from their hardship funds to enable collective buying and distribution all over Liverpool.
An initiative such as this could make a massive difference in tackling period poverty in North East Liverpool, and the city as a whole, enabling girls to go about their lives as normal, rather than worrying how they will get through the next week without basic products.