UK Minister for Women and Equalities and Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt has announced new funding to tackle period poverty internationally.
Lack of access to sanitary products and the unwarranted taboo associated with periods have been shown to lead to girls and women missing school or work both in developed and developing nations; in some countries this extends to women and girls being sequestered in isolated huts for the duration of their period. In the UK, a survey conducted by Girl Guiding UK found that “26 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 feel embarrassed talking to people about their period and 21 per cent had been made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their period”. Mordaunt’s campaign, announced yesterday in the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, aims to contribute to ending period poverty around the world by 2030 through a combination of international aid, domestic funding; and education to destigmatise menstruation.
The campaign’s pledges include:
- £2 million (€2.32 million) in aid to be distributed to organisations working to combat period poverty around the world;
- A taskforce comprising representatives of government departments, manufacturers, retailers and charitable groups, aiming to develop sustainable solutions to the growing problem of period poverty in the UK, with initial funding of £250,000 (€289,717);
- £1.5 million (€1.74 million) provided by charitable funding consortium AmplifyChange, to be allocated across 54 projects in 27 countries to provide girls with the education and sanitary products they need to manage their periods with dignity.
Celia Hodson, founder of sanitary product maker Hey Girls, which donates one box of products for every box it sells, said: “I very much welcome the statement from Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt MP regarding her commitment to set up a Task Force to focus on finding a sustainable model to eradicate period poverty in the UK. I’m confident that given recent reports highlighting period poverty has significantly increased and the high percentage of women and girls currently struggling to access menstrual products this initiative will receive cross-sector support and should be widely supported by cross-party members.”