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Period products should not be seen as a luxury item and available to more people struggling during the cost-of-living crisis, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt has vowed.

First published:
15 February 2023
Last updated:

Improving the availability and accessibility of menstrual products is a cornerstone of the Welsh Government’s newly published A Period Proud Wales plan.

The plan outlines how everyone should have access to period products, whenever they are needed. Those who are struggling to afford menstrual products are being urged to have the confidence to seek the support they need, with free period products available in more places than ever before.

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said:

Period products are not a luxury item and should be available to everyone who needs them. This is more important than ever as many struggle during the cost-of-living crisis.

We want to ensure that having a period does not lead to missed education, absences from employment or withdrawal from sport and social activities due to period poverty.

More than £12 million has been invested in improving access to free period products for children, young people and those on low incomes in Wales over the last five years.

Free period products are available in every school in Wales and across a range of community venues including (but not limited to) foodbanks, libraries, leisure centres, family centres, community hubs and youth services. Sport, cultural venues and employers are also being encouraged to provide free products for staff and visitors.

It is hoped this will eradicate period poverty and ensure those who are the most vulnerable have access to period products.

Dee Dickens struggled to afford menstrual products when she was growing up and felt ashamed of herself when she was on her period, constantly worried that people would notice.

I would use toilet paper in the school toilet,

she said.

Until I left home I spent every period worrying people could smell me and that was the shame in it. That’s one of the reasons why I’m talking about it now, as I don’t want anyone else to go through this.

She added:

When I left home I was in charge of my own budget, but even then I would run out and still I wouldn’t go out and buy more as I had this inbred guilt and it was back to the toilet roll in the knickers. It’s taken years of therapy for me to realise that I deserve nice things and I shouldn’t really be thinking of sanitary products as nice things.

Normalising having a period and removing any sense of shame or stigma around periods is a key priority of the plan.

The plan also aims to raise awareness and understanding of both menstrual cycles and the menopause, so people have the confidence to speak openly about them, so they don’t negatively impact on their lives.

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said

A Period Proud Wales sets out our ambitions to ensure period dignity and eradicate period poverty for women, girls and people who have periods.

In order to do this we need to improve access to period products, remove the stigma or taboo around talking about periods and improve understanding of the impact of periods on people’s lives.

She added:

We know broader socio-economic and environmental factors will affect our ability to meet this vision, but we are striving to start a conversation and begin a cultural change that will benefit generations to come.