A recent poll found that menstrual issues were the most common reason for girls to be absent from school
A new study has exposed the extent to which stigma and period poverty are affecting young girls. In a poll commissioned by hygiene services provider phs Group, it’s revealed that schoolgirls miss an average of three days per term due to period-related issues – more than for a cold, flu, holidays, or truancy.
Surveying 1,000 teenage girls, the poll found that nearly half (46 per cent) believe period poverty holds girls back from attending school, while a third (30 per cent) feel it’s hindering their ambitions.
Period poverty is an under-reported but widespread issue across the UK, brought into the spotlight in April 2017 by then-17-year-old activist Amika George. Her #FreePeriods campaign has been a huge success, with the government now pledging to offer free sanitary products in schools by 2020
As well as a lack of money, the new research found that nearly half (46 per cent) of the girls surveyed said more needs to be done to remove the stigma of periods. This is an issue also faced by homeless women, who are often too ashamed to ask for menstrual items when passers-by offer help. Speaking to Dazed in March, Katrina McDonnell, who runs The Homeless Period Belfast, explained: “One of the reasons period poverty exists is because of the taboo that’s around menstruation… it’s definitely a case of education, it should be talked about a lot more from a younger age.”
With sanitary products bafflingly regarded as a ‘luxury, non-essential item’ in the UK, this research is vital in proving how big of a problem period poverty is right now, and will hopefully lead to the removal of draconian stigmas surrounding women’s bodies.