Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

New landmark report focuses on the state of period equity in the UK

TODAY, leading figures in menstrual health have issued a landmark report on the state of period equity in the UK.  

Led by charity In Kind Direct alongside an advisory group made up of organisations, academics, and activists –Essity, Irise International, All Yours Period Box CIC, Period Power, Bloody Good Period, Love Your Period, Cysters, Dr Annalise Wecker and Agatha-May Akora –have joined forces in the hope to break lifelong cycles of exclusion caused by period inequity.

This marks the first time all partners have come together to focus their collective efforts on tackling the issue of period inequity and the wider stigma around menstruation in the UK.

The research explores recurring patterns of marginalisation that start at school and continue into the workplace and beyond. This lack of support, across all stages of life, leaves too many missing out on learning or work each month and feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

The report of 2,926 adults who menstruate found that nearly one in five (18% full-time, 17% part-time) employees regularly miss work because of their period. This represents an estimated annual cost of £3.25 billion to UK employers.

In Kind Direct discovered that 14% of employees missed work due to the lack of facilities available to them in the workplace, while more than one in 20 (6%) stay home as they don’t have access to the products they need.

The report also highlighted that 1.4 million people have gone without period products in the past year. Nearly two in five (39%) who have gone without products have done so because they could not afford them.

Furthermore, the study identified that current education is not meeting the need. Of those who received education about periods, eight in 10 (79%) say they’ve had to learn more since that education.  

Rosanne Gray is CEO of In Kind Direct, which has appealed to the government, employers and the charity sector with a number of recommendations to tackle the scale of period inequity.

She said:

“Right now, millions of people in the UK can’t access the products, education, and shame-free support they need to manage their period each month. More than 40% of our charitable network is supporting someone who’s regularly using toilet roll instead of pads because they can’t access the period products they need.

“Our landmark report highlights the significant cost of days of work lost, and the simple steps policymakers, businesses and the general public can take to break the cycles of exclusion caused by period inequity. We ask others to join us, alongside Irise International, Essity and our Advisory Group, to ensure no one is held back by their period.”

The report outlines a number of holistic, cross-sector and cross-party recommendations that can be taken by policymakers, businesses and the third sector. These include;

  • Strengthening menstrual health education to ensure accurate and comprehensive information is available to all.
  • Expanding access to free period product programmes across the UK to ensure everyone can access the products they need to manage their period.
  • In the short-term, supporting immediate action to improve product access in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, including increased support for charity sector organisations providing product and culturally sensitive education in communities.

Ruth Gresty, spokesperson for Essity, which makes Bodyform and Modibodi period products, said:

“We know that period inequity remains a significant, yet hidden, issue in the UK and the findings from today’s report acts as a stark reminder of the urgent need for change.

“Over the past six years, we’ve donated millions of our period products to In Kind Direct, but in truth, so much more needs to be done to get to the root cause of the problem. 

“We’re immensely proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the esteemed partners involved in this report and hope the government takes action to find workable solutions which can be adopted by employers, educators, everyone – ensuring no one in the UK is held back by their period.” 

To help drive meaningful progress towards the mission of eradicating period inequity, all partners are encouraging everyone to read the full report. With more than half of the world’s population menstruating, it is time period inequity becomes everybody’s business and the hope is, this report promotes positive discussions amongst family members, between friendship groups and with colleagues in the workplace.

The full report and free resources can be accessed here: The State of Period Equity in the UK: Breaking Cycles of Exclusion. 

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