Welcome to the #FreePeriodsForGirls Campaign!
Will you help Excel Women's Association raise £10,000?
#FreePeriodsForGirls campaign is designed to empower, educate and engage disadvantaged communities about their periods, and ensure access to appropriate biodegradable products.
We created #FreePeriodsForGirls to help young girls in Barking & Dagenham and surrounding boroughs.
Although the government has announced that sanitary products will be free in secondary schools starting from September 2019, it does not solve all the issues around period poverty. Our project will not only help to elevate period poverty in primary and secondary schools but it will also tackle sanitary and plastic waste that are harming and affecting our health, and ending up in landfills, on beaches or polluting our oceans for decades to come.
Furthermore because menstrual taboos still remain, it has a massive impact on the products we use and in turn how we dispose of them. Therefore, this is where our project comes in hand, as the biodegradable and reusable products we will be supplying to young disadvantaged girls will not only help their wellbeing but also the long term wellbeing of our environment and economy which will continue to decline if actions are taken without consideration of the amount of carbon footprint it is leaving with all the plastic and chemicals used to create sanitary products. Therefore our aim is to aid two matters without one or the other more importance as they are equal causes worth fighting for.
We are a small non-profit charity, dedicated to improve the wellness of women and girls in East London. We exists to advance education, relieve financial hardship to promote and protect the health of women and young girls. ‘Free Periods For Girls’ is a project is that enables us to empower young females in schools and youth centre, making sure their right to free access to sanitary products that are better for the environment and their health is heard and fulfilled. We believe this is a basic human right and provision that should be more readily available and therefore should not be one of main causes/barriers of young girls not achieving and evolving in their lives.
Period Poverty: What is it and who does it affect?
When we think of poverty, often we assume it means having a lack of access to food and adequate housing because of financial constraints. However, there are many types of poverty that can occur due to not having enough financial resources and ‘period poverty’ is one that many women and girls inevitability experience in their lives.
The term ‘period poverty’ refers to not having the resources to manage your period, this does not only refer to financial constraints being the cause of not having access to sanitary products but also not knowing how to manage your period can similarly be one of the main factors that contribute to period poverty.
Furthermore, period poverty is not just an issue in far away, third world countries like Kenya and Cambodia where this is a well-known issue that many charities work to elevate. It is just as a serious ongoing issue affecting thousands of women and especially teenage girls in low-income households all over the UK, whom are one of the most vulnerable groups. In turn, affecting educational outcomes, health, well-being and their overall quality of life.
Who is our project helping and why is it important?
This is where our project ‘Free Periods For Girls‘ comes in, as we noticed there is not much movement in elevating period poverty in our borough of Barking & Dagenham which has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country with poverty in general prevalent in most households where income/wages has flatlined and benefits have drastically been cut or made harder to attain.
This can be a very difficult situation for a young teenage girl as they can see their parents are already struggling to buy the necessities and pay the bills, so to ask for money to buy sanitary products in that situation may make young girls have feelings of guilt. It does not help that talking about menstruation is still seen as a subject of taboo for many people, making it even harder for young girls to ask for help/sanitary products.
This leads them to find other ways to manage their periods, from using toilet tissues to stuffing socks with tissues, old torn T-shirts or newspaper. All of which causes discomfort and can lead to inflammation and infections. Not to mention, continued use of such highly unhygienic methods can have extremely adverse effects on young girls later on in life such as causing issues with fertility or other cervical illnesses.
This monthly concern has led many young girls to routinely miss school (an average school year of 35 weeks) because for them and their families, affording menstrual products can be seen as an unattainable luxury. Therefore, they would rather stay at home than go to school in fear of embarrassment/shame that they may bleed in their school uniforms in front of their friends and classmates because they were unable to afford the proper products to be adequately protected. Missing such a large amount of school, particularly during critical school years such as Year 11 to Year 13 can lead to extremely poor GCSE and A Level results. This greatly affects chances of going to university and finding a job, therefore period poverty is a serious matter that schools should recognise and work together to elevate.
Therefore, it is our job to educate and break down barriers to end period poverty, your donation/pledge will go a long way to ensure that every girl in the borough of Barking & Dagenham and surrounding boroughs have free access to sanitary products in their school and youth clubs.
The more you pledge, the more we can help and the less period poverty continues to prevail!
What makes our project great?
Our project has two key elements that make it great:
- - It is fighting to break down barriers to reduce period poverty by supplying free sanitary products to schools and youth clubs.
- - Realises that conventional sanitary products are not that much better for disadvantaged young girls in the long run.
Conventional sanitary products contain:
- - A chemical called dioxin occurs from the process to bleach them white, which is known as an endocrine disruptor.
- - Many women have reported adverse allergic reactions to the synthetic ingredients, plastics and fragrances used in disposable menstrual products all of which can cause just as much damage as using makeshift sanitary towels.
Conventional sanitary products versus biodegradable and reusable sanitary products:
- - The cost of sanitary products is extremely high - the Free Periods organisation estimates that “menstrual products cost more than £18,000 in a woman’s life (£13 a month)”.
- - Washable and reusable sanitary towels are cost-effective and practical, while they seem expensive for a single purchase there are many benefits and reduces plastic waste.
Benefits of Biodegradable and Reusable Sanitary Products
- Eco-friendly - washable and reusable
- Economical - can use for 3-5 years with proper care
- Healthy - simply organic, does not contain bleach
- Soft - Material used (Bamboo Charcoal Fiber + Ultrafine Fiber) is natural and gentle
- Safe - its inner layer is leak proof
- Easy to clean - rinse in cold water, machine wash and just dry e. Safe: its inner layer is leak proof
Causes of disposable sanitary products:
Heard of the Fatberg? It is a 130 tonne solidified formation of waste that is blocking the London sewers. One of the causes is the tampons and sanitary products that have been flushed down toilets across the city.
You may not be aware, but it takes a tampon longer to degrade than the lifespan of the women who wears it and the average woman will use over 11,000 disposable, one-time-use menstrual products in her reproductive lifetime.
So what do you think? It is cause worth fighting for? Not just for disadvantaged young girls but also for benefit of the environment.
How will we solve this issue and what will the money raised be spent on?
In order to help relieve this monthly stress for young girls in the Barking & Dagenham and surrounding boroughs, the objectives of our project:
- - To provide schools and youth centres with biodegradable and organic sanitary products.
- - To provide free biodegradable menstrual products to all young girls and teens.
- - To provide pouches made from recyclable material to schools and youth centres to combat feelings of embarrassment of menstrual products being seen by others.
- - To provide resource packs to all local schools (primary and secondary) and youth centre to raise awareness on period poverty. Resource packs include reusable menstrual products and an information sheet on the benefits of them to compared to standard sanitary products. Schools can then sponsor girls in receipt of free school meals to receive these packs. As these children are from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds, whom are most likely to be faced with this monthly burden.
I want to pledge right now but I have no money, what can I do?
At EWA, we are always happy with any donation we receive no matter how big or small, it all goes towards good causes. Therefore, even if you cannot pledge right now there are many ways to help support our campaign. Here is how:
- You can share our project with friends and family via word of mouth or on social media
- - You can join us on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to keep up with our good work.
- - You can support us by becoming a volunteer! To get in contact to register your interest, please send us an email at Volunteer@excelwomenscentre.org.uk.
The best way to help our cause is by sharing our Crowdfunder page! Help us empower, engage and uplift disadvantaged women and girls by taking care of their menstrual health for free!