Health

What it takes to… end period poverty

Student Amika George, 19, led the campaign to end period poverty in the UK, which resulted in the government providing free menstrual products in schools
Photography: Sophia Spring. Illustration: Alice Skinner

 

‘It started with an article I read in April 2017 about period poverty – girls on their period having to miss school or use toilet paper, newspaper, or old socks (because they couldn’t afford sanitary products). So I launched the #FreePeriods campaign with a petition on change.org. Within two weeks, we’d received thousands of signatures.’

 

I organised a demonstration outside Downing Street with Pink Protest: around 2,000 people turned up with speakers including Adwoa Aboah and Jess Phillips MP. It was the best day, with mainly teenagers – boys and girls – waving banners.’

‘I’m trying to tackle the period taboo. We’re socialised to think periods are gross. I have friends who didn’t tell their mums they’d started for six months – they were too embarrassed. I try to be really open about the subject.’

I can’t do everything – and have to remind myself of that, balancing the campaign with studying was overwhelming at times. [Initially] there were people who took me less seriously because I was young, but now my dream is to take Free Periods internationally.’

 

"I cried when the government pledged to provide free sanitary products in schools by 2020*"

Join the campaign at freeperiods.org and on Instagram @freeperiods

*Presently excludes schools in Northern Ireland
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