Women and girls in Sunderland will have access to free sanitary products as part of a new initiative backed by the council.
Period poverty is prevalent in the North East, with girls missing school due to being unable to afford sanitary products and food banks reporting an increase in demand.
A motion to back Unite’s ‘period dignity’ campaign will see sanitary products provided in all local authority buildings and primary and secondary schools in the city.
National figures have revealed that one in 10 girls and women aged 14 – 21 are unable to afford sanitary products, while almost 140,000 girls across the UK have missed school due to this in the last year.
“It is an issue in Sunderland,” said Cllr Geoff Walker, Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care at Sunderland City Council. “There have been reports that young women are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary products, and food banks are finding more and more that people are coming in looking for period products, simply because they can’t afford them.
“It seems quite obvious when you think about it: if people are struggling to get food, they are going to be struggling to get period products.”
Sunderland Council plan to talk to affected women and girls as the scheme is rolled out over the coming months.
— Kelly Chequer (@kellychequer) January 30, 2019
Cllr Kelly Chequer, who led the motion, said: “My view now is let’s get on and do it, the sooner the better, because any time that’s wasted in between, there are still girls suffering and people missing their education.”
She continued: “I’m looking forward to working with our partners to pull together a really robust plan to ensure that we are able to deliver the products to people in a way that is going to be beneficial and meaningful to them. There’s a lot of stigma around periods and people are still afraid to talk about it, so I don’t want there to be any barriers to people being able to access these products.”
Emma Chesworth, co-founder of the Free Period NE campaign, commented: “No woman or girl should face not having adequate sanitary protection. It is a public health issue and an education issue if girls are missing school because of their periods. The bottom line is every woman and girl deserves to have their period with dignity.”
Follow the Free Period NE campaign on Twitter
Find more information on the Period Dignity campaign here