People

The most inspiring moments from the #FreePeriods march

Last night, hundreds of women (and plenty of men) donned bright red clothing and gathered outside of parliament to march together to #FreePeriods.

The protest was calling on Theresa May to “provide free menstruation products for all girls already on free school meals” after charity Freedom4Girls discovered that young girls in Leeds were missing school because they couldn’t afford to buy sanitary products when they were on their periods.

The march was organised by activist and campaigner Amika George, one of Stylist’s Women of the Year 2017, alongside The Pink Protest.

Here, stylist.co.uk meets photographer Amelia Allen, who headed to the march to capture the most inspiring moments. See some of her stunning photographs, alongside her own words, below.

“After spending the last two years photographing naked naturists all over the UK who are so open, honest and non-judgmental of the human body, it was interesting to me that these women were still having to fight for the basic human right that is sanitary wear.

I couldn’t believe how many women and girls in school were made to feel embarrassed just for getting their periods once a month.”

“The atmosphere was really energetic and, despite the fact that women were campaigning for something that frustrated them (as well as me), everyone was unbelievably happy and supportive because they had come together for something that related to themselves and the women they knew. Aretha Franklin was playing on the speakers as we arrived and everyone was wearing red. There were lots of pretty sparkly signs with tampons hanging off them, although it wasn’t just women at the march which was great. There were a few young men, as well as the famed screenwriter and director Richard Curtis.

Obviously, it was a civilized and peaceful protest with no aggression, just lots of brilliant women coming together to fight for an important cause that affects half of the human race. Without periods and a menstrual cycle we couldn’t procreate, yet we have to pay for them every month (which adds up to a lot over a lifetime) and so many girls and women just can’t afford that.”

“My favourite speech on the night was by MP Jess Phillips. She was hilarious and talked about how she was actually on her period that day and had had a meeting with the Home Secretary, after which she did that awkward double check to make sure she hadn’t leaked on her chair ‘which would have been a statement’. It was so refreshing to hear from a woman who is in a powerful position helping other women who don’t have any power or a voice. 

She made the point that she couldn’t have gone about her day without access to sanitary wear, which is exactly why everyone was protesting. 

Adwoa Aboah from Gurlstalk also spoke on the night. I’m a huge fan of what she does. She said the issue of sanitary protection wasn’t just for women, and encouraged girls to talk to the men in their lives and make it clear that some women face huge difficulties when unable to access sanitary products. It wasn’t just about girls in school but also women who are living on the streets and can’t afford to buy them, and have to choose between food and period products.”

“The female MPs at the march stressed that we were not the first people to be protesting this issue, and reminded us that women have been doing this since the Seventies. But how is this still happening in 2017, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world..?”

Naked Britain by Amelia Allen is available now.

All images courtesy of Amelia Allen