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Bid to end 'period poverty' in Medway with free tampons and sanitary towels

By Dean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

A motion which could eventually see free tampons and sanitary towels issued to eligible schoolgirls in Medway is being considered.

Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab) is calling for Medway Council to review its finances to see if the authority could help end “period poverty” locally by providing menstrual products for the Towns’ girls who receive free school meals.

Research by national charity Freedom4Girls suggests thousands of young women are missing school every month because they are unable to afford feminine hygiene products.

Tampons and towels are currently taxed at 5% in the UK.

Some schoolgirls could be helped out of 'period poverty'. Picture: Getty Images
Some schoolgirls could be helped out of 'period poverty'. Picture: Getty Images

Cllr McDonald said: “No girl or woman should be marginalised or made to suffer because they are unable to afford sanitary items.

“All women – regardless of age, background, or social status – should be able to access the hygiene products they need.

“However, across the country and in Medway, women have to choose between buying sanitary products and other necessities.

“Some might find this an uncomfortable topic, but we need to be able to talk candidly about these issues and come to mature and progressive solutions.”

The motion also calls for Medway Council to write to education secretary Damian Hinds (Con) to encourage government to fund free menstrual products for all school girls in receipt of free school meals across the country.

It reads: “This council wishes to place on record its clear and unwavering commitment to tackling and ending period poverty in Medway.”

A survey, conducted by Plan International UK, claims one in 10 women or girls aged between 14 and 21 cannot afford sanitary towels.

The matter will be discussed by full council this evening.

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