What’s going on here?
Period poverty campaigners are crowdfunding to take legal action against the government and ensure period products are free in schools in England.
What does this mean?
The campaign group, called Free Periods, are fighting against period poverty and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support its legal action against the government. They have partnered with the Red Box Project, which provides period products for schools, and The Pink Protest, which promotes youth activism, to spur the government into taking action to ensure girls who can’t afford period products can access them for free at school. Free Periods says that when girls are unable to afford sanitary products it can lead to them missing school for a week every month, or see them being forced to use newspapers, toilet paper or old clothes in place of menstruation products. They say that providing products for free would help ensure that girls don’t miss out on their education. The legal action has come about after “nothing has been done” despite the two years of government lobbying. The group has thirty days to raise £10,000 so it can bring a case against the government, which would be taken on pro-bono by lawyers Hausfield & Co.
What’s the big picture effect?
By bringing a legal action the English government will be forced to evaluate its policies and could enact meaningful change. As it stands, one in 10 girls in the UK can’t afford menstrual products, and another six per cent of parents have resorted to stealing the products. Therefore, not only would positive action ensure that girls don’t miss out on education but also have a ripple effect on crime.
Scotland’s government was the first in the UK to provide sanitary products for girls in education, and also to women from low-income backgrounds which has proved to be very successful. Similarly, Welsh authorities provide a special fund for women in need which helps them access such products. However, England has yet to commit any period poverty policies to paper. This could change if Free Periods’ legal action is successful.
It is worth noting that the Department of Education have said “there is no evidence that period poverty has a significant nationwide impact on school attendance”. However, this is disputed by campaigners and any change the government makes is extremely likely to have a positive impact on a national scale.
Report written by Connor B.
If you're interested in writing for LittleLaw, click here for more information