In the run up to the Christmas break, CIGS ran a campaign on period poverty, inviting members to donate sanitary products that would be distributed locally to those in need. The response was simultaneously generous and furious, with many people expressing frustration that charitable donations were the only way for some that such a basic need could be met. By Christmas, we had collective 6 large shopping bags full of sanitary products, as well as £100 in cash, and the donations were divided between the Red Box Project (Leeds Central) and Freedom4Girls. In carrying out this fundraising project, we were very mindful of the smug pictures a number of Conservative politicians posted in the run up to Christmas as they handed over bags of pasta and sugar to food banks without any reflection on their own complicity in generating the poverty that made those donations necessary, and we wanted to maintain a critical voice alongside our donations. With this in mind, Lucy Smith and Plan International UK have generously allowed us to share this post from their blog on this topic, identifying the ‘toxic trio’ of period poverty. They also have a powerful Menstrual Manifesto, which situates period poverty in the context of the shame and stigma that attaches so easily to menstruation.
We are very grateful to everyone at the Red Box Project, Freedom4Girls and Plan International UK for working with us, and to everyone who donated.