For far too long, the topic of mensuration has been met with ignorance, resulting in our government and University politicising a basic human right.
The tampon tax is a redundant policy. With the ever-growing openness of discourse, wonen are reclaiming the shame that once surrounded their period in turn forcing the issues and inequalities into the spotlight. So much so, they can no longer be ignored.
On the heels of the Scottish Government announcing its £5.2 million scheme to provide free sanitary products in all schools and universities, our SU and a number of activists have pushed Newcastle University to follow suit and become the first British university to provide the same. However, this promise has yet to be met, due to unexplained ‘delays’.
Period poverty is no longer a secret. Statistics have shown that almost 50% of girls have missed an entire day of education because of their period, whilst 1 in 5 use ineffective, makeshift sanitary products due to cost (Plan International 2017). With such financial sacrifices being made by so many to attend university, I believe it is the university’s responsibility to provide such a necessary provision for its female population, alleviating this burden and allowing for the luxury of uninterrupted studies. Above all else, universities have a duty of care for their students, in which provision of free sanitary products is in their best interest.
Newcastle University has the means to align themselves as allies and game-changes in this struggle. It’s no longer good enough, they need to step up.
In March, former-NUSU President Raff Marioni announced that the University would be supporting the introduction of free sanitary products across eight locations on campus. Now seven months later, we’re still waiting…
How is it that it took just summer to refurbish the library, but we’re still waiting for our period products seven months after they were announced?
The idea was that the products would be available in machines that could be accessed by any student via a swipe of their student card, but it now appears that these machines are the main cause of delay; not even fully designed, never mind installed! I don’t buy that excuse. My question to the University is this: why not still make the products available across the eight locations, in their offices or front desks in the meantime? No, it’s not ideal and it removes the anonymity, but surely getting these products to the people who need them is more important?
How is it that it took just summer to refurbish the library, but we’re still waiting for our period products seven months after they were announced? This brings into question the urgency of the University to implement this initiative in the first place. Whilst it is good that the University is working hard to get these products rolled out ASAP, I still think it’s very poor that once again, women and marginalised gendered people’s health has been put on the backburner.
The reality is, that poverty won’t wait for it to be convenient to the University before it starts affecting students lives. For students like me, who have the privilege of being able to afford sanitary products and only using the free ones across campus in emergencies, this is just an inconvenience. But for those students who rely on free products to keep them protected and comfortable on their periods, this is a huge concern; one that the University must rectify!