Speak Out champions are a group of girls and young women who make up Girlguiding Scotland’s youth panel. They act as spokespeople for the organisation and share their views on issues that matter to them and other girls across the country.
They’ve always been passionate about ending period poverty for good and have supported Monica Lennon MSP over the years in her quest to make this a reality. Check out this blog by Speak Out champion Lauren and find out more about what part they played!
Period Poverty affects everyone in one way or another - whether it affects individuals based on the costs of products, or not having the basic facilities to manage their periods. Plan International UK found that 14% of people have had to borrow products from others because they couldn’t afford to buy period products. In addition to this, 12% have made use of alternatives because they couldn't afford to buy regular products, and almost 20% have had to switch to a less suitable period product because of the costs.
Since this survey, over the past 5 years there has been a lot of positive change surrounding the issue of period poverty. In 2017 a pilot programme was launched in Aberdeen to provide free products to low income households. Shortly after, Girlguiding Scotland launched their Period Poverty campaign in September, stating that no-one should be forced to forego period products because of cost or lack of facilities, calling to improve access to products for all.
In 2019, Monica Lennon MSP proposed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill and alongside Girlguiding’s Speak Out champions, campaigned at the Scottish Parliament until November 2020 when it was finally passed. It became an Act officially on 12 January 2021, meaning all educational facilities must supply a range of period products in their bathrooms, as well as a Scotland-wide scheme to supply free products to anyone who needs them.
Period poverty is an ongoing issue because most people with periods have them recurring for around 40 years, having to buy products for half of their lives. Our Girls in Scotland survey shows that two-thirds of young women in Scotland said that they’re aware of more environmentally friendly products - many of which are actually healthier alternatives.
Our survey shows that 58% of young women think reusable products are too expensive. More needs to be done to have affordable access to these long-lasting reusable products, as not only do these products help the environment with less plastic waste, but they limit the costs of buying products constantly.
There is still a long way to go to illuminating period poverty altogether, but it feels like we’re on the right track!
By Lauren, Girlguiding Scotland Speak Out Champion