The Students’ Union at UWE commits to tackling Period Poverty

The Students’ Union commits to tackling period poverty, in a bid to support students and remove the taboo around menstruation.

The Students’ Union commits to tackling period poverty, in a bid to support students and remove the taboo around menstruation.

Periods cost people who menstruate an estimated £4800 in their lifetime. Period poverty is the term describing insufficient access to menstrual products and poor knowledge surrounding periods. Inadequate education, taboos and financial barriers are all obstacles to empowering people who menstruate.

  • 1 in 10 girls in the UK cannot afford to purchase menstrual products.
  • Studies have shown, that over 40% of people who menstruate have at points resorted to using a toilet roll or torn up nappies because they cannot afford menstrual products.

In an effort to combat this, Bristol City Council (BCC) has ambitiously agreed to become the first UK city to attempt to eradicate period poverty in its entirety, a goal that UWE students are passionate in helping become a reality. BCC plans to provide free access to menstrual products to all school children in Bristol from year five to year thirteen, from September 2019.

As part of The Students’ Union’s commitment to tackling period poverty, a UWE student and two staff members from The Students’ Union, were given the opportunity to attend a training day, held by No More Taboo.  The training discussed Period Poverty and work on a strategy, to see what we can do to combat this in our organisations. The training helped to deepen our understanding of period poverty and how it affects the people we work with.

We learned how to assess our organisation, in terms of how period friendly it is and how we can strive to achieve more for the people we work with. One student that attended the training said “I loved the training day so much! I learnt that period poverty isn’t just about people’s financial situations, it can also be about people’s knowledge of menstruation as a whole. The Students’ Union and I are now taking steps towards having free sanitary products available, for anyone who attends Feminist Society events. This is a small but important progression, towards eliminating period poverty at UWE. Five stars” Daisy Wakefield, President of the Feminist Society.

Since the training, as an organisation, we have self-assessed how period-friendly we. We have reviewed our toilet facilities, accessible products and or working culture. We were pleased with the result of a Silver score and are now working together to make sure we become a Gold standard rated organisation in terms of Period Poverty. We are investigating how we can equip our staff with more information and empower them to have open, honest conversations, about our periods and aiding our student-facing staff to spot the signs of period poverty.

We are engaged in discussions on how to move forward with creating an environment and culture that supports accessible and sustainable menstruation for both our students and staff and welcome your input.

  • The Students’ Union shops currently absorb the ‘tampon tax’ in solidarity with people who menstruate, as we do not believe menstrual products should be subject to a luxury item tax.
  • We also currently provide free tampons in U Block and are looking at how we can ensure anyone who needs them can access them across all campus sites.
  • The Students’ Union will soon stock menstrual cups in our shops in addition to our already stocked plastic free tampons and pads.
  • We are also reviewing how we can ensure a more inclusive space for all people who menstruate, by ensuring we have gender neutral toilets with waste bins and, by including menstrual waste in our induction for new starters.

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This article supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals