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Menstrual products will be free in schools in bid to end period poverty

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Harriet Marsden
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Free school sanitary products

The DofE-funded scheme is designed to help tackle stigmas as well as stop pupils missing school. 

Period products will be free in state schools in England starting next week, as part of a scheme funded by the Department of Education.

Tampons, sanitary towels, menstrual cups and eco-friendly pads will be available in every primary and secondary school and college in a bid to combat period poverty.

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The move is part of the government’s ongoing initative to tackle the problem, which seriously affects education as it can cause pupils from low-income families to miss school. 

Rosamund McNeil, the assistant general secretary of the National Education Union, said that more than 137,000 pupils had missed school in 2018 because of their period. 

 A survey in 2017 by charity Plan International found that 10 per cent of girls and women aged 14-21 had been unable to afford menstrual products.

Michelle Donelan, the children and families minister, said: “Periods are a normal part of everyday life and we do not want young people missing out on lessons because of them.

“This scheme will deal with those problems so young people can go about their daily lives without getting caught out.”

The DofE also said that the scheme was designed to help tackle stigmas and raise awareness around periods. It will cost up to £20m this year, and will be available at more than 20,000 schools for around 1.7 million students.

The government originally planned to roll out the scheme only in secondary schools, until people pointed out that many girls begin their periods at primary levels.

In 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to make sanitary products freely available to all students. The Welsh government followed suit in August last year.

There has been some online backlash and mockery of the plan, with what appears to be mostly middle-aged men complaining about the cost. 

Many Twitter users were quick to point out the irony of their misplaced concern, especially considering that free condoms are widely available and periods are not a choice.

Others paid tribute to Amika George, who kickstarted her mission to combat period poverty in schools by founding an organisation called Free Periods.

Main image: Getty

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Harriet Marsden

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