The issue of period tax has had a massive breakthrough. Three months ago parliament agreed that tax on menstrual products should be removed. This victory was all due to the efforts of feminists and organisations like Pink Protest who protested outside Downing Street and petitioned online.
Menstrual products, which were thought of as a luxury for third world countries like Kenya (for which the charity Freedom4Girls was providing sanitary products) were, in fact, a luxury for girls living in Leeds too. In March 2017 the charity provided sanitary products to girls in Leeds, who were routinely missing school because of their periods as they couldn't afford to deal with them.
18 year old Amika George started the #freeperiods movement on change.org, imploring the government to provide free menstrual products to girls from a low socioeconomic background who are on free school meals. Change doesn’t seem so far away, 13 members of parliament have signed an early day motion for ‘Free Provision of Sanitary Products for Girls from Low-Income Families’, George however is still pushing for girls on free school meals to receive Sanitary Product provisions too.
Laura Coryton who also started a petition to end the 5% luxury tax on sanitary products, achieved her goal in 2016. However, the government announced that it wouldn't be until 2022 that this would be implemented. Because of this, another petition has been registered to “Axe Tampon Tax before 2022!”
The fight is far from over, women and organisations all over the UK demand change, and the human right to deal with periods in a humane way.
Girls in the UK who couldn't afford sanitary products resorted to newspaper, toilet paper and socks.
Let us advocate for a sensible and respectful way for women to deal with their periods, now! Any woman who has had a period can reassuringly tell you that it is no "luxury", it is time for the government to stop treating it as if it were. All women deserve to have access to sanitary products despite their financial situation.
I'll end with the beautiful words of "End Tampon Tax" petitioner Rachel Strong:
"If sanitary products are non-essential luxury items, I shall stop buying them. I'm sure work, other passengers on the bus and anybody who's furniture I may sit on will understand entirely."
"£7 will supply a girl in Africa with a washable reusable sanitary pack that will last up to 3 years. This will enable her to attend school without a break due to lack of protection." Support the charity at www.gofundme.com/freedom4girls