Leeds became the first city council in England to announce plans to investigate the costs of sanitary wear and combat period poverty in its schools yesterday.
Speaking about the plans, Councillor Jonathan Pryor (executive member for learning, skills and employment) wanted to ensure that measures are in place so that no girl in Leeds has to skip school as a result of her period or go unfed because she has spent her lunch money on sanitary protection.
“It is a damning indictment of our society”, Councillor Pryor warned, “if girls are left in the position of not being able to afford sanitary protection, leading to them missing school or even meals. Child poverty is rising and we have a duty to mitigate its impact as much as possible.”
The number of children living in poverty has steadily increased since 2011, with an estimated 3.9 million children now living in poverty across the UK. With period costs averaging out at around £128 a year, studies have shown that one in seven girls struggle to afford sanitary wear, leading them to borrow products from their friends or, in some cases, improvise their own forms of sanitary protection.
In order to find “a solution to what, quite frankly, should not be a problem in this city”, Leeds City Council will be working with Carr Manor Community School in a pilot study that aims to discuss and explore the best ways to mitigate period poverty.
The findings from this pilot study will be used to generate a sustainable and long-term solution to ensure young women always have access to sanitary protection when needed. Since the research will be conducted amongst young people, the council hopes that this pioneering study will help to reduce the stigma that continues to surround periods in young groups.
The Council will also be working alongside the University of Leeds and The Children’s Society to investigate the impact of period poverty on attendance across early and higher levels of education.
Image: [Getty Images]
Bloody Good Poverty / Plan International