Speaking in support of Unite’s motion on Period Dignity at #NTUC19j

Anya Cook

University & College Union National Executive

And Branch Secretary at Newcastle College where we had the first Period Poverty campaign at a college in England- launched back in October.

Our campaign was funded by our branch and we invited contributions from organisations and colleagues.

In February we secured agreement from the principalship to fund free sanitary products for all students. We won this by asking.

And we promoted this win on International Women’s Day with a voxpop from Dawn Butler MP Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

The Chancellor must have seen that video because a week later he announced he would fund free sanitary products in schools and colleges – universities next please.

Plan International UK are the leading organisation for girls and girls issues and they commissioned substantive research into Period Poverty.

What that research showed was that girls and young women are saying that they aren’t getting comprehensive teaching or information on periods, on their biological or sexual development.

This leaves the potential for ignorance and it connects directly with issues of lowered self-esteem , lowered mood and lowered confidence.

And from the conversations I have every day in my work with young people – they have told me they think this gap in their learning is a contributing factor in the incidence of teenage pregnancy, which is quite high in this region.

How does this link to Period Poverty, to Period Dignity?

We need to not rely on big companies, on corporations claiming corporate social responsibility brownie points by going into schools, running sessions on periods, giving away free products and buying in brand loyalty.

We need local women going into schools and colleges delivering a comprehensive programme to our girls and young women – that programme needs to be a symbiosis of emotional, physical and psychological development.

And we need the same for our boys and young men.

The trade unions could and should deliver this.

I support this motion.

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