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Free sanitary products to be provided in Welsh schools in bid to tackle period poverty

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 16th, 2019.

Over 141,000 school girls across Wales will soon be given access to free-of-charge sanitary products as part of a new Welsh Government initiative.

The Period Dignity Grant for Schools will also see schools encouraged to support reusable, environmentally sustainable products to allow maximum choice for learners.

It features as part of £2.3 million Welsh Government funding to providing free sanitary products in primary and secondary schools, as well as making them as accessible as possible.

Research from Plan International shows 15% of girls struggle to afford sanitary products, 14% have had to borrow from their friend and almost 20% have had to use a less suitable product because cost was an issue.

The Welsh Government say that the money will be made available immediately via local authorities, who fund schools in Wales.

The Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, said it is “unthinkable that young women could be forced to miss days of their education simply because they can’t access or afford period products.”

She added: “We’re committed to tackling this inequality in Wales and this funding will help make period products available to learners in all schools, free of charge and in the most dignified way possible.”

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “We are committed to supporting period dignity and maintaining our investment in schools to help bring period poverty to an end.

“In March, we declared free sanitary products would be available to all women in Wales’ hospitals – it is only just that the same happens across our schools.

“It is essential ample sanitary products, as well as good facilities, are available to all female learners so they can manage their periods with confidence and remove what is an unnecessary barrier to their education.”

In May 2018 Wrexham.com reported that the local authority was to receive a share of £440,000 over the next two years to tackle period poverty in their communities where levels of deprivation are highest.

£700,000 of capital funding will also be used to improve facilities and equipment in schools – ensuring that all girls and young women can access good sanitary facilities when they need them.

Locally work has been ongoing for several months to tackle period poverty in schools, with councillors voting last year to press ahead with plans to put the shelves with sanitary towels in all secondary schools and some primary schools.

Almost 500 students from Wrexham secondary schools took part in a survey about the current provision of sanitary equipment and feminine hygiene products.

The survey found that more than a quarter of pupil respondents have had to take time off secondary school in the last year because of lack of access to sanitary products and more than a third of respondents in primary school.

A report on the progress with the sanitary dispensing scheme will be provided councillors in 18 months.

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