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Leeds MP Calls for Free Sanitary Products for Low-Income Schoolgirls

March 20, 2017 6:37 PM

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland used a Parliamentary Question to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, to call for automatic free provision of sanitary products to girls who are eligible for free school meals and additional provision for those girls requiring sanitary products and unable to buy them.

The Secretary of State congratulated Greg Mulholland on raising what she said was an, "important point" and said that she would write to Mr. Mulholland in the future on the matter. Greg has also tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for the provision of free sanitary products for girls from low-income families. August 2015, blank

Mr Mulholland's calls follow a report by the BBC, highlighting 'period poverty' leading to some girls in Leeds missing school because they could not afford to buy sanitary products, whilst others were forced to use entirely unsuitable alternatives such as socks, toilet roll, or tissues. The concerns were raised by the charity Freedom4Girls, who provide free sanitary products to women in Kenya but are now having to do the same in West Yorkshire.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) proposes the automatic entitlement to free sanitary products for all girls eligible for free school meals. It also notes that the problem is likely to be more widespread than it seems, as some girls may find it difficult to discuss the issue.

Commenting, Greg Mulholland MP said:

"It is absolutely shocking that there are girls in 21st Century Britain, including in Leeds, who are having to miss school, due to not being able to afford sanitary products."

"It just goes to show how serious this problem is that a charity set up to provide free sanitary products for poor and vulnerable girls in sub-Saharan Africa is now having to do the same in Leeds. On average, women and girls spend £5 - £10 per month on sanitary products. For low-income families, this is a considerable amount of money."

"This is something that must be addressed and we need to ensure that no girl is forced to miss any schooling. I hope that the Government will take urgent action to address this scandal and ensure that all girls get access to sanitary products, including providing free sanitary products to those girls eligible for free school meals."