Menstruating. Periods. That time of the month. The Curse. Your Aunty Flow. Having the painter and decorator in. The Blob. On the rag and my personal favourite…Shark week. Whatever you call it I’ve yet to meet one person who absolutely loves bleeding from their vagina each month.
My periods have always sucked big time. I get exhaustion, bloating, spotty teenage skin and headaches about 3 days before my period actually arrives and then when it hits, it hits hard! I grew up in a house with my mum, dad and two sisters so there was a lot of menstruating happening. Although I come from a working-class background in an area affected greatly by poverty, I was lucky enough that we could afford whatever sanitary products my sisters and I needed.
It had never occurred to me that the arrival of my period and my sister’s periods meant that my parents had to factor these monthly events into their budget. That as each one of us reached puberty there was less money to live off of each month. Money was always tight in our house when I was growing up but each month my monster heavy periods were taken care of. I never missed school and my life didn’t stop. It never occurred to me that there were girls sitting right next to me in class who had just one sanitary product to last them the whole day. Or even worse, there were girls off sick from school because they couldn’t afford any sanitary products or even painkillers to help with their cramps.
Teachers up and down the country have been voicing their concerns over period poverty for years and finally we have reached a point that their cries for help can no longer be ignored. Some school district’s teachers have been buying sanitary products out of their own pockets for students who have been forced to come to school with only one saturated sanitary towel to last them the whole day. Some children can’t even afford one sanitary product and have been forced to stuff their underwear full of toilet paper in the hopes it will stem the flow for long enough until they can make it home. Reports from school girls in Leeds said that many of them had resorted to stapling socks to their underwear just to make it to class because their attendance had become so low that they were getting into trouble.
There are a few simple things we can do right now to help make a difference!
Support your local food bank. This is one of the most important things you can do! Even if you just pop one packet of sanitary pads or tampons in as little or as often as you can, you WILL be making a real difference to someone’s life. Don’t feel like you can only donate if you are donating a lot. Little and often as much as you can, it all helps.
Support organisations that are raising money and raising hell, like Ruby Rebellion, Bloody Good Period and The Pink Protest. Buy your period products from brands that are donating some of their profits to fighting period poverty such as Flo and Ruby Cup and join the conversation! Write to your MP! Get involved anyway you can as little or as much, it all helps. Together we can create real and lasting change.