Penny Mordaunt launches £2m government fund to tackle period poverty around the world
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Minister for Women and Equalities and Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, is today (4 March) launching a campaign against global period poverty.
According to Open Access Government, Ms Mordaunt will make a speech later today where she will formally unveil the new UK government campaign which includes a £2 million fund to end global period poverty by 2030.
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The Department for International Development (DIFD) estimates that half of all women and girls in developing countries are forced to use rags, grass and paper when menstruating because they simply cannot afford sanitary products.
Photo: Feminine hygiene products in a supermarket by Stilfehler under GNU Free Documentation License
Whatsmore, according to a UNESCO report, one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their period and in some countries the taboo surrounding menstruation is so great some women and girls are forced to spend their menstrual cycles in ‘period huts’.
Earlier this year, a 21-year-old woman became the fourth person to die in Nepal after being banished to sleep in a hut - an outdoor shed - when she was on her period.
The campaign to end period poverty, stigma and taboos not only extends to those in need abroad, it will also focus on issues in the UK.
A 2018 report led by sanitary product brand Always revealed over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty. And when it comes to social stigmas, Girl Guiding UK found that 26% of girls in the UK aged 11-21 feel embarrassed talking to people about their period while 21% had been made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their period.
Photo of young woman by Thnh Phng from Pexels
Speaking at a conference, Ms Mordaunt said:
“Empowerment starts when you are young. Girls should be able to focus on their education and their future without being worried about or embarrassed by their periods.
“There are British entrepreneurs and businesses already doing fantastic work to tackle period poverty and I want us to partner and support them to really make a change to the lives of those who need it most.
“This is a global issue. Without education, women and girls around the world won’t be able to take the steps to reach their true potential.”
UK charities have welcomed Ms Mordaunt's announcement.
In a statement given to The National Student, Farah Nazeer, deputy director of advocacy at ActionAid UK, said:
“We welcome today’s commitment from DIFD to end period poverty globally by 2030, it is a step in the right direction.
“Periods are a natural process and a part of nearly every girl’s life, but social stigma and a lack of access to sanitary pads are holding millions back from getting an education. In some countries period poverty can also prove fatal through banishment to isolated menstrual huts.
“Period poverty is just one of several barriers holding women and girls back and so it is vital that aid solutions tackle the root cause of this global problem, which is the deep-rooted gender inequality and social norms that remove women and girls’ rights to their bodies and lives.
“Local grassroots activists have been working closely with entire communities to tackle these norms and empower women and girls to reclaim their rights. UK aid needs to support long-term solutions to achieve sustainable change and focussed on poverty alleviation.”