Period poverty is affecting more people who menstruate in the UK than originally thought, a new survey shows.
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand-washing facilities, or waste management. The charity organization Bloody Big Brunch found that 27% of people who menstruate have missed either work or school because of period poverty, the Independent reports.
The organization partnered with the PR research firm Ginger Comms to poll 931 people across England, Scotland, and Wales. The survey found 51% had suffered from period poverty or knew someone who had. Over two-thirds said they had been forced to use makeshift period products before.
Although Bloody Big Brunch pulled data from a small sample, its findings are a reminder that menstrual equity needs to be achieved in both the developed and developing world.
Read More: Period Poverty: Everything You Need to Know
Bloody Big Brunch organizes brunch events across the UK where attendees gain admittance by donating period products instead of paying money. Menstrual equity activist Amika George will be hosting the next brunch in London.
“As a society, we need to send out the message that menstruation isn’t dirty and it certainly isn’t a luxury,” Bloody Big Brunch campaigner Lee Beattie said.
It's a bloody disgrace 🙅♂️ No girl or women should have to choose between school or work and adequate menstrual protection. Ever.— Bloody Big Brunch (@BloodyBigBrunch) February 20, 2019
You can help! Host your own #BloodyBigBrunch on March 3rd with fellow #periodcampaigners across the UK. Visit https://t.co/Bk7dw1vL7D to get started. pic.twitter.com/PB0mS2FPDS
Period products are taxed at 5% as luxury items in the UK. It’s one of the several countries with a tampon tax –– a form of gender-based discrimination often known as the “pink tax,” named for the frequent marketing of the color pink toward women. The average woman spends an estimated £4,800 on period products in her lifetime, according to Bloody Big Brunch, and Plan International UK found 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products.
The tampon tax isn’t the only financial barrier to safe menstrual hygiene access. Many people around the world often have to choose between paying for food and rent over period products.
The majority of survey participants — two-thirds — believed period products should be available free of charge to all people who menstruate, and 84% thought they should be free at schools and colleges.
Beattie hopes the organization’s events push the government to stand up for menstrual equity, as part of the global fight to ensure everyone has pride and dignity when it comes to menstruation.