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Student petitions government to eradicate period poverty in UK schools

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A 17-year-old student from London has launched a petition calling on the government to tackle period poverty in schools.

Amika George, the student behind the petition, was shocked when charity Freedom4girls revealed students in Leeds are missing school because they can’t afford basic sanitary products.

Her petition calls on the prime minister to address this serious issue, and take action to eradicate period poverty in schools for good. 

Writing on the petition, Amika says: "We can, and must, change this. Period Poverty must go.

"Mrs May, we are going to lobby your Government so that free sanitary products are provided to all girls on free school meals. This situation simply cannot persist."

By setting up this petition, Amika says she hopes to build enough momentum to convince the government to take action. She has enlisted the support of London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore, who was chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Human Rights when he was MP for Hendon.

Mr Dismore says: "I strongly support Ms George’s campaign, and have written to Sarah Champion MP to seek that this becomes official Labour Party Policy. It is important that the Government take this seriously and pledge new money, rather than cut other existing education and local government budgets."

In addition to Andrew Dismore, the petition has received support from other high profile people and groups, including Channel 4 news presenter Cathy Newman and the charity Women's Aid. 

Since it launched three weeks ago, the petition has gained over 5,300 signatures. One woman who signed it explained her reason for supporting Amika's campaign, writing: "It's deplorable young women are missing out on education over a very basic necessity of sanitary protection."

Amika believes part of the reason that period poverty is not a widely known, or discussed, issue is because of the shame that surrounds it. Put simply, young girls fear speaking out about something they find embarassing.

Amika says: "We need to escort period shame out of the door and mobilise the government to stop marginalising girls from the lowest income backgrounds."

You can pledge your support by signing the petition here. 

Image by Gsvadds.

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