[2019] Motion 42 Period poverty

carried motion
Carried motion

Received from:

The trade union movement is beginning to address period poverty and it is encouraging to see a number of affiliates running campaigns highlighting the very real issues many will face if they live in a household impacted by poverty and are prevented from being able to access sanitary wear due to a lack of financial resources. This motion calls on the TUC Women’s Committee, and the TUC General Council, to make this issue one of its campaigning priorities until such time as access to sanitary provision becomes free for everyone at point of need.

Congress acknowledges during a woman’s lifetime she will spend £18k on her periods, however for some women the impact of poverty, pay and welfare cuts can mean choosing between food or sanitary wear. Period poverty is real and predominately affects schoolchildren, homeless women, refugees and asylum seekers.

A Plan International study shows 10 per cent of young women have been unable to afford period products, 12 per cent have had to improvise with toilet paper or socks and over 137,700 have missed school because of period poverty.

It is simply not acceptable that girls are having to miss school because of not being able to afford basic sanitary products when they have their period. Nor is it acceptable for workers to have to suffer the indignity caused by having to use unsuitable and inappropriate non-sanitary wear products to cope with menstruation when they are doing their job. The CWU has been running its own very successful workplace-based campaign on period poverty and we believe the time is right for a more co-ordinated labour movement campaign and action plan to be led by the TUC.

Congress commends the Scottish government for introducing schemes to offer access to free period products to low-income families and in educational institutions. It also commends the Welsh government for ring-fencing £1m for free sanitary products for those most in need. Sadly, there has been no indication for any such moves in the rest of the UK.

Congress calls on the TUC General Council to:

i. lobby the government to provide free sanitary wear to low-income families, schools, colleges, universities and homeless shelters
ii. encourage affiliates to raise the issue of period poverty with members asking them to lobby their MPs for policy change
iii. champion the work of charities such as the Red Box Project and Bloody Good Period.

TUC Women’s Conference