On 22nd Jan 2020, Gift Wellness Founder & CEO, Dr Zareen Roohi Ahmed will be interviewed on BBC Radio Derby’s mid-morning show about the governments new scheme to supply schools in England with free period products. On the programme she will be explaining how, at Gift Wellness, we’ve been supplying free sanitary pads since 2013, not just to schools but to food banks, homeless charities, youth clubs, and refugee projects. In fact we’ve donate around 5 million pads so far, and continue to do so through The Gift Wellness Foundation www.periodpoverty.uk; and through the generosity of our customers who buy products on www.giftwellness.co.uk to be donated to women in crisis.
Should the fact that the government have finally agreed to supply school girls with period products be celebrated? It is certainly a step in the right direction, but that is the point - it is just one step, as period poverty effects not only school girls but homeless and underpaid women, refugees and women from communities where they are prevented from speaking out about their menstrual needs. We receive several calls and emails every day from projects across the country where they are dealing with women who are being prevented from leading normal lives because they can’t access or afford period products. We're not just referring to homeless women and refugees, we're talking about teachers and nurses, who get paid so little that they have to decide whether to buy sanitary products for themselves or food for their children. We hope that that by acknowledging the need to supply schools with period products, the government will also now see the needs of these other groups of women whose human rights are being compromised simply because they are women.
The other Issue that she will be talking about tomorrow is how the scheme needs to do more than just supply schools with period products, because period poverty is not just about affordability. Many girls don’t access sanitary products because they are brought up in a culture where they do not speak about periods. We're not only referring here to a girl from an Asian family for example, whose mum tells her that ‘we don’t talk about these things’; we're talking about the culture within some of our schools! When we first started providing free pads to schools in Derby (where we’re based), we had a number of headteachers telling us that they didn’t have this problem in their school, because no girl had ever asked for pads. We also hear frequently about cases where a girl starts menstruating for the first time in school and actually doesn’t know what’s happening to her. This is astonishing and infuriating, at a time when all kinds of sexual health themes are being rammed into children's heads at a young age, but the basic knowledge of menstruation is being left out. The point is that it’s about time that the conversation around periods is completely normalised - be it in the classroom, or the boardroom, or the front room! Why? Because it is a normal ‘bloody’ issue!
Donate to tackle period poverty in your community here: www.periodpoverty.uk
Or buy a pack for women in crisis here: https://giftwellness.co.uk/collections/gift-sanitary-pads-pantyliners/products/buy-gift-pads-for-women-in-crisis
Listen to my interview on Wednesday 22nd January on BBC Radio Derby at 11.30am.