The Chancellor’s announcement of free sanitary products in all secondary schools is welcome but needs to go further, according to Bristol City Council’s cabinet lead for women, children and families.
As a city, Bristol has led the way in tackling period poverty, holding the UK’s first summit on the issue in January this year and passing a motion at Full Council in November to ensure all schoolchildren in the city in years 5 to 13 have access to free sanitary products.
The funding announced by the Chancellor this week will enable the Council to deliver on that promise.
Councillor Helen Godwin, cabinet lead for women, children and families has pledged to take this work further, including considering ways to provide free sanitary protection to older children in primary schools, as well as secondary schools. Together with partners across the city, Bristol City Council is already looking at developing education programmes to be delivered alongside the provision of period products, aimed at both girls and boys.
Measures to tackle period stigma and the reduction in physical activity amongst girls who reach puberty are also being considered, as well as school policies around access to toilets and education around menstrual health more widely.
Reacting to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s spring statement, Councillor Helen Godwin said:
“I welcome this investment by the Chancellor to support young women and girls who either can’t afford to buy sanitary products, or just as worryingly, don’t feel they can ask for them.
“But he could have gone further. We could educate our young people – both boys and girls –to help end the stigma around periods and menstrual health.
“This funding will enable us to deliver on our promise to provide free sanitary products to all secondary school and college students. But evidence shows that girls are starting their periods earlier, so we also need to ensure primary schools have the means to help girls.
“We are working with teachers and head-teachers to understand provision in all of the city’s schools and to ensure that policies around access to toilets during lessons supports young women during their period.”