Free sanitary products will be available to girls in all primary schools from early next year, the Government has announced.
The move follows last month’s announcement that the products would be made available in secondary schools, which some said did not go far enough after widespread concern that a growing number of female students were skipping lessons due to a lack of sanitary products.
But on Tuesday children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed the scheme, fully funded by the Department for Education, will be widened to include primary schools.
“This Government is determined to ensure that no-one should be held back from reaching their potential – and wants everyone to lead active, healthy, happy lives,” Mr Zahawi said in a press release.
“That is why earlier this year we committed to fully-fund access to free sanitary products in all secondary schools and colleges in England.
“After speaking to parents, teachers and pupils, we are now extending this to more than 20,000 primary schools so that every young person in all our schools and colleges gets the support that they need.”
The news comes after campaign, Free Periods, kick-started a petition for the UK government to pledge free menstrual products in all secondary schools. Over 271,000 people signed the petition with 2,000 taking to the streets of London to protest.
The decision was welcomed by Amika George, who started the Free Periods campaign
“Free provision of menstrual products in all schools and colleges is something that Free Periods has been fighting for for over two years,” she said.
“Access to menstrual products for all children in compulsory education will mean that every child can have access to the products they need, and no-one will have to miss school because of period poverty.
“Every child should be able to go to school without wondering where their next pad or tampon will come from, and this will mean that no child will be held back from realising their full potential and being their very best.”
A 2018 survey by Plan International UK further emphasises the scale of the issue with one in 10 British women aged between 14-21 unable to afford sanitary products.
As a consequence, the survey also discovered that one in seven have had to ask to borrow sanitary products from friends.
But things are finally beginning to move in the right direction.
The free sanitary protection scheme will be rolled out across primary and secondary schools early next year.