We’re taking action. Period.

Girlguiding advocates Evelyn, Sophie, Liddy and Emma tell us why they're leading our campaign to end period poverty and stigma

Evelyn, Sophie, Liddy and Emma
20 August 2018

Did you know that 10% of women in the UK don’t have access to menstrual products?

Inspired by the campaigning of Girlguiding Scotland, our advocate panel is working to eradicate period poverty.

Evelyn, 19

‘Stigma around menstruation has arisen because people can find it hard to talk about periods, even though they’re a normal biological process that much of the population experiences. It seemed like the obvious step for us to do something about it.

Because it’s a subject that many people still misunderstand, we’ve made it one of our goals to ensure that, as part of the school curriculum, all pupils – both girls and boys – will get the same information about periods and what to expect in puberty. In England, we’d like to see this provided as part of the new relationships and sex education programme, but we’d also like to see something similar across the rest of the UK too.

Better understanding will help people feel more willing to speak out and cause a few ripples. And you only need a few ripples to set off a massive wave of change.’

Sophie, 21

‘It was thanks to an article in the Independent that I became aware that period poverty is a fact of life for many people in the UK. I firmly believe that having access to menstrual products should be a basic right. It’s ridiculous that something which is a necessity for so many is considered a luxury item, and is also expensive. So I posted my thoughts on our Advocate panel group chat, and we decided that we had to do something about it.

It’s important to realise that this issue doesn’t only affect people in faraway places. For example, women living on our streets prioritise spending any money they do have on food. They’re just not able to afford period products.

As Girlguiding advocates, we have the chance to take these issues to the people who can actually make other’s lives better – and that’s why we’re taking action.’

Liddy, 20

‘I became a Girlguiding advocate because I saw it as an opportunity to help amplify the voices of other young people as best I can.

That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about our project on period poverty – it feels amazing that being angry about an issue can translate into a national campaign. Before we started discussing period poverty, I thought it was something that only happened in developing countries. I think many people do, and that’s really opened my eyes to what a problem it is in the UK. That’s why one of our
calls to action is to ask governments across the country to provide dedicated funding for schools, colleges and universities to help make menstrual products available to those who need them.

In an ideal world, I’d like to see this campaign help put an end to period poverty altogether. I’ve found that if someone starts talking about the subject the gates are opened for others to do so too. If we combine our voices we can make the call for change even louder.’

Emma, 20

‘Periods are something almost every woman experiences at some point, but so many don’t have access to the products they need to carry out their everyday lives. We want to tackle that, while also dealing with the negative language around periods.

For example, shops label things like pads and tampons as “sanitary products” or “feminine hygiene products”, which implies that there’s something inherently dirty about periods. So we’re asking our members to take our pledge to talk openly about periods, and help make sure no one feels embarrassed or ashamed about them.

Language is so important in adding to – or reducing – misunderstanding and stigma. By enabling people to talk more freely, we can raise awareness on period poverty and make a real difference in the world.’