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One in four girls or women left in period poverty, unable to afford sanitary products

More than a quarter of females have been unable to afford sanitary products, a new survey on period poverty has revealed.

The issue was previously thought to affect one in 10 girls and women across England, Scotland and Wales, but research has showed this has increased to 27 per cent. More than half of those asked said they had suffered from period poverty or knew someone who had, while two thirds (68 per cent) had been forced to makeshift menstrual protection before.

The survey found that issues with sanitary products caused 26 per cent of the 931 girls and women asked to miss either school or work.

Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of people indicated that they believed sanitary products should be available free of charge, the research showed.

While 84 per cent said they thought products should be freely available in schools and colleges. The research was carried out GingerComms, together with campaigners from the Bloody Big Brunch. The Bloody Big Brunch organises events across the country, where participants pay not with money but by donating sanitary products.

Its largest ever campaign day is due to take place on Sunday March 3, International Women’s Day. In January, the Scottish Government announced £4 million would be going to local councils to provide free sanitary items in public buildings.

This followed a trial scheme where female hygiene products were provided in schools, colleges and universities. Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has put £1 million of funding towards tackling period poverty, resulting in claims that England is being ‘left behind’. Amika George, who started the Free Periods campaign, is raising funds for a legal challenge to the UK Government.

‘The Scottish and Welsh governments have made history with their pledges of period provision for girls in schools, colleges and universities, but in England we’re being left behind,’ she said. ‘That’s why we are combining forces with the Bloody Big Brunch to take legal action against the government to ensure every schoolchild gets access to the essential products that they need.

‘Equal access to education is a fundamental human right and no-one should miss school because they can not afford pads and tampons.’ Lee Beattie, of the Bloody Big Brunch, said: ‘As a society we need to send out the message that menstruation isn’t dirty and it certainly isn’t a luxury. ‘By using fun to highlight fundamental rights, we’re hoping we can mobilise Westminster, who have been negligent on the issue of periods for far too long.’