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MPs and campaigners call for an end to period poverty in the UK

A coalition of politicians, campaigners, and NGOs have called on the UK Government to tackle period poverty in an open letter.

The letter was signed by more than 50 signatories including cross-party Members of Parliament (MPs).

It included demands for free period products to be provided in public buildings, including libraries, community centres and schools.

Despite current provision for under-18s in English schools, over 32 per cent of girls surveyed said that period products were not available at their school. This leads to thousands of school days being lost each year due to period poverty.

Bloody Good Period figures highlighting an 87 per cent in demand for free period products in 2022.

The UK Government previously pledged a fund in 2019 to tackle period poverty around the globe but it has still not announced a plan for delivery.

Equality campaign group EMPOWER, who sponsored the letter, is calling on the free provision of period products in Scotland to be emulated in the rest of the UK.

Co-signers include leading campaign groups Bloody Good Period, Irise International and Freedom4Girls, in addition to period product providers NaturaCare and DAME.

Campaigners have argued that those on the lowest or no income at all are the most vulnerable to period poverty, particularly because of the financial impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

This letter kickstarts EMPOWER’s campaign to eradicate period poverty in the UK.

Kirsten Oswald MP, SNP Shadow Spokesperson for Women and Equalities, said: “It was great to participate in EMPOWER’s recent webinar on period poverty in the UK. This is an issue that really does deserve our attention as it impacts half of the population.

“Period poverty is even more pressing because of the cost-of-living crisis, so the more that we can do in the here and now, and in taking this conversation beyond these islands, the closer we can come to addressing this problem for women and girls all over the world.”

The Scottish Parliament unanimously voted to provide free period products for all in 2020, with legislation coming into force in August 2022.

Oswald added: “I am proud of Scotland for being the first country in the world to make it possible for people to have access to free period products, which has been a real cross-party initiative. This conversation must continue to happen on an ongoing basis until period poverty is in the mainstream.”

The full open letter and list of signatories can be found here.

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