Beginning this summer, free tampons and other sanitary products will be offered at all medical establishments across England that are managed by the National Health Service, The New York Times reports. The announcement was met with enthusiasm from advocates and members of the medical community, who consider the measure to be a positive advancement in the effort to end period poverty.
A 2018 investigation by the British Medical Association found that 42% of trusts and health boards either don’t provide sanitary products at all or will only supply them in the event of an emergency. The study also mentioned that those trusts and health boards did provide free razors and shaving foam.
Period poverty puts tremendous stress on menstruating women and non-binary individuals. A survey found that one in four women and girls has had to miss work or school on their period due to lack of affordable access to sanitary products, according to NHS England. Tina Leslie, who founded the organization Freedom4Girls, that fights period poverty in the UK and developing countries, said the new policy is “breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma around periods.” Ruth May, England’s chief nurse, said in a statement, “periods are part of life, and too often we take for granted that everyone has access to sanitary products… the embarrassment, discomfort and anxiety of finding yourself in a hospital without adequate protection on your period will be a thing of the past.”
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