Everything You Need to Know About Period Poverty

Finley MacDonald is a third year Criminology with Psychology student. Featured Image is from UWE’s SU Website,

What if I told you that you could not access water or food, basic human rights, because of your financial situation? No charities to help you and no council support. That’s absurd, right? This is the reality for many people internationally, period poverty is an important yet ignored public health crisis; in the UK alone, 1 in 10 women cannot afford to buy menstrual products.

What is “Period Poverty”? 

In a 2020 report from the University of Michigan, “Period poverty” was defined as the prevalent phenomena of being unable to afford products such as pads, tampons or liners to manage menstrual bleeding. Internationally, many people are forced to use unhygienic alternatives, such as reused pads, paper towels or toilet paper. Feeling clean and confident during your period is a necessity, so why are we making individuals choose between buying tampons and basic necessities?

What changes are being made?

Governmental changes:

Across the UK, there has recently been more recognition of period poverty and the changes that need to be make period products accessible to all.

  • In December 2020, the English government introduced a scheme to allow individuals in school (up to age of 19) to access period products as “no-one should be held back from accessing education due to their period”. 
  • Similarly, in Wales they have provided free sanitary products for every learner who may need them. 
  • In Scotland, period products are free for all individuals of all ages – making them the first country in the world to make menstrual products free! 

Societal changes: 

  • Celebrities, organisations and brands are recognising the taboo around periods and they are speaking up about this to abolish embarrassment and shame around periods. 
  • Charities such as Plan International UK created projects that enabled individuals to talk about periods to educate society – “Let’s talk. Period.” 
  • Menstrual Hygiene Day more recognised in 2020 to raise awareness of the challenge’s menstruation poses. 

What services are available through University of the West of England?

  • If you are a student on campus who is self-isolating, UWE accommodation will ensure that you have access to period products.
  • The Student Union offer free organic menstrual products in their toilets.
  • Signposting across campus to guide individuals to financial options if they may struggle.
  • UWE’s Student Money Service provides support for any students struggling to afford period products.
  • UWE’s Student Union are committed to ensure that students can access the right menstrual products whether they are on or off campus.

Get in touch:

If you, or someone you know, is struggling to access menstrual products and would like to speak to someone about this, please get in touch with The Student Union:Email:

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