Why I started the national petition for free tampons

What makes them a luxury item?

On October 9th, my petition to make tampons and sanitary towels free for females went live. I posted it onto Facebook, and the response from my friends and family was incredible, many of them telling me they were proud of me, or congratulating me for doing something about it.

Over the next few days the petition blew up, with it reaching 10,000 signatures within three days of it being live – meaning that the government has to respond to it. It’s currently at 25,000, a quarter of the way to being considered for debate in parliament.

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Why is this a luxury item?

For years now this has been a pressing issue for me, and I’m sure it has for many others. I’ve never understood why tampons and sanitary towels cost so much and why something that we can’t avoid has become a massive consumer industry.

I was particularly inspired this summer whilst working at a trade show. There was a stand raising awareness about the difficulties young girls in third world countries face when they have their periods, and it got me thinking about how lucky were are to live in a country that enables us to live our lives as usual when we are on our periods.

But then I thought about how many women and girls in Britain live below the poverty line and for them it’s not as easy as it is for people who can easily afford sanitary products. The end goal is of course to be enable women all over the globe to live without fear of getting their periods – but the first step is tackling here.

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As well as all the positive support there’s also been a lot of negative backlash with people saying that it’s not feasible and would cost too much. Some people are taking my parallel with contraception out of context. I understand that there are millions of women in the UK who get their periods monthly, I also understand that there are millions of women in the UK who can easily afford to pay for sanitary products. It would cost millions to make this a reality, I agree.

Women should be able to have a certain amount of sanitary products, free of charge, each month. In the same way that I can go to a clinic and be given free contraceptives. Sussex University, where I’m currently a fresher, has a scheme in which sanitary products are handed out for free every Wednesday, which is great, and I hope other universities and colleges across the country take heed and start something similar. I also want to further stress that I’m not devaluing the need and importance for free contraceptives, it’s amazing that the NHS provides them, I was merely just using it as a relative. 

These last few days have taught me, if anything, the impact the internet and social media have on today’s society. It’s insane how quickly something like this can spread. Insane but very, very amazing.

If you want to sign the petition and help reach 100,000 signatures, click here

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