Too embarrassed to ask for help, young women on the Isle of Wight are missing school because of period poverty.
Up to half of women surveyed by Plan International UK last year revealed they had missed an entire day of school because of their period — of which 59 per cent have made up a lie when telling the school.
Call for council support
A motion will be put before the Isle of Wight Council on Wednesday asking the council to support the Red Box Project (RBP), which campaigns to raise awareness and provide free sanitary products in schools across the Island.
One student at an Island school told the RBP:
“We get by, supporting each other and giving pads out to people we’ve never really met without question. But that’s only when girls are able to summon the courage to actually ask others for help.
“Many feel as though they are unable to ask anyone outside of their friendship group, so they go without. It is difficult to judge the realistic numbers of young people missing school through period poverty or menstrual ill health because we know they lie when calling into the absence line. They are suffering in silence, which wouldn’t happen if there were products available to all students.”
Plan International UK also revealed a quarter of young women surveyed had used a product for longer than its intended use because they could not afford a fresh one.
The national survey also showed one in ten young women had been unable to afford menstrual protection.
The Isle of Wight RBP encourages people in the local community to donate products — including towels, tampons, wipes and appropriate pants — which are collected from donation points across the Island and placed in schools.
The products are not just designed for emergencies, but to support girls who need it through the entirety of their period.
As the box empties, the project restocks.
Lilley: Period poverty “totally unacceptable”
The motion will be put forward by Independent Green councillor, Michael Lilley.
Cllr Lilley said:
“Young women on the Island should not be in a position of not being able to go to school due to their families not being able to afford menstrual products which are expensive and families have to make a decision between food or such products.
“It is totally unacceptable and I am so grateful the IW Red Box Project is courageously bringing this issue to the Island community’s attention.”
The motion will be debated by council this Wednesday, at 6pm.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh