Almost half the population can relate to the dreaded feeling that comes when Mother Nature decides to pop in to visit. The mood swings, cramps, aches, pains, and sudden panic; “Do I have a tampon?”.
Almost every month, those with a menstruation cycle will have a 5-7 day long period. It is completely natural, and if this makes you feel uneasy, it shouldn’t, it’s the reason you are alive. Period poverty and the campaigns aimed at combating this have become increasingly present (you can read our blog post about period poverty here), and while ‘period poverty’ is evidently a high profile issue across both developing and developed nations, it is astonishing how many women in developed nations still don’t have access to proper hygiene facilities and products when they need them.
Inadequate access to female hygiene products still occurs across the UK, and in a survey conducted by Initial Washroom over half of the female respondents said that they had experienced a situation in which there was no feminine hygiene unit available when they needed one. Organisations have a duty of care to their employees and customers. Not only are there often no vending machines for such products, but there is also often no means of hygienically disposing of them either.
In April 2017 I attended a concert at the O2 in London. I found myself caught short and could not find a single dispenser in the toilets in or around the O2. This is something that most if not all women have already faced or will face in their life. For a variety of reasons, (whether it’s an unexpected period, forgetting to pack our products or giving away our emergency stash) we will occasionally find ourselves in situations where we do not have the necessary provisions or facilities available to accommodate us. This is even the case in the public toilets in Parliament.
Providing women with a comfortable bathroom experience should be obligatory. If we are to tackle the fight against period poverty and ensure women are able to participate fully in society, we must first ensure we have the correct facilities in place. Organisations and leaders must take ownership to ensure access to female hygiene units to acquire and dispose of waste correctly.
Sadly, there seems to be nothing looking at making it compulsory for organisations to provide such dispensers, which are as vital if not more vital than the more common dispensers in male toilets selling condoms. We want to change this. If you are interested in joining the discussion follow us on Twitter, @ABloodyMessUK and join us on the 18th of February for a roundtable discussion.
This piece was written by Ellie Varley and Seena Shah
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