How old were you when you started your period? I’d only just turned 12. It was January 1998. I left school in June 2004 after finishing my A-levels. In that time I’d had 78 periods, lasting about 4 days. That’s potentially 312 of periods. And potentially 312 days of my education I could have missed out on. Some girls do miss out.
Over the last year I’ve been helping, or just generally bothering, the amazing Bloody Good Period. This has opened up a whole world to me of the issues that surround periods that affect women every single day. Why are we paying tax on these ‘luxury’ items? How do homeless women access pads? How do refugees and asylum-seekers who live on £37 a week decide whether to prioritise period products over food or personal hygiene products?
How do girls on free school meals, who know their parents might not have enough money to buy food, ask them to start buying pads for them?
A lot of people are started talking about how ridiculous it is that girls are missing school in the UK because of something completely natural that they cannot prevent, and before Christmas the #freeperiods protest was held to make sure more people were listening. To make sure they listen, we brought signs! And had many lovely, high-profile celebrity people do speeches. Like Daisy Lowe! And Aisling Bea! And Adwoa Aboah!
The campaign for free periods was started by the quite frankly remarkable Amika George. I have had the absolute privilege of meeting Amika twice now. She’s an amazing person, and she hasn’t even sat her A-levels yet. I mean, I had a Saturday job when I was in sixth form, imagine having the presence of mind to do TV interviews and then go into school the next day.
The protesters brought a shit-tonne of pads with them to donate to BGP. Loads.
At the end, the protesters left their signs opposite the gates of Downing Street for the PM to see. In a parliament that is, and has always been, dominated by men, the needs of women are often overlooked, or worse, dismissed. If boys were missing school because of something they cannot prevent, would nothing be done about it? If we get given free toilet paper everywhere we shit, why can’t some girls get pads, because they’re pretty much bleeding everywhere? We have a female PM for only the second time ever, surely she can at least empathise with how much of a bloody mess we all have to deal with?
You’ve read my arguments and looked at some frankly magnificent signs. Sign the petition here. Sign the petition. As I write it’s just under 10,000 signatures short of hitting the 150,000 needed for it to be debated in parliament. Please share the link with your network and we can get there. Girls should not be missing out on their education because of their period.