Writing Rights Ltd
Founder, Writer, Editor at Writing Rights
Yesterday, I went to Downing Street, fake blood smeared on my face, to protest period poverty. Silence, squeamishness, and dismissal of issues which relate to menstruation create real consequences for Britain's women and girls.
The protest called on Theresa May to provide free sanitary products to girls in schools who are already on free school meals.
According to Plan International UK, 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, and thousands of girls are missing school every month because they cannot afford basic sanitary provisions.
If the protest is listened to, the government will have to provide free tampons and towels to 208,000 girls across the country.
The protest itself was attended by hundreds of women in red bearing banners covered in blood, along with some fantastic menstrual puns ('We are not ovary-acting' was a real favourite).
I was really blown away by the range of ages which came together to demand justice for girls, and the range of speakers, who reflected that diversity, from Baroness Shami Chakrabarti to Daisy Lowe.
It's an issue intersected by questions of culture, economics, and race, and it was fascinating to see so many aspects of the menstrual taboo addressed in the space of one evening, with honesty and humour and compassion.
"No girl should be missing school because she can’t afford to have a period." says Amika George, 18, the movement's founder.
But it goes much further than this: menstruating women are oppressed across our society in often-subtle ways, which can cause social and economic disadvantages, as well as psychological trauma to women in vulnerable situations.
Women deserve dignity in menstruation in each and every situation, and no public body should be failing to respect and fulfil this right.
I am currently working with the brilliant women at the ICVA on an exciting new campaign on this - watch this space!