Why a Mansfield councillor wants us to talk about periods

Labour councillor for Mansfield Woodhouse, Coun Amanda Fisher wants to look at ways we can tackle period poverty.

Period poverty is a worldwide, problem, and we often hear of terrible cases in places such as India and Kenya, where activists have battled for years to prevent girls from dropping out of school due to lack of sanitary products.

Coun Fisher feels so strongly about the issue, she brought a motion to Mansfield District Council at a meeting last night (November 20), in a bid to tackle period poverty.

Coun Fisher feels so strongly about the issue, she brought a motion to Mansfield District Council at a meeting last night (November 20), in a bid to tackle period poverty.

It's easy to imagine these poor young girls in far flung corners of the globe struggling with an issue that is often shrouded in secrecy and shame, but it is happening right here, in Mansfield.

Young girls and women often find it hard to talk about periods, especially when they struggle to afford sanitary products.

Coun Fisher said: "I've been reading about period poverty for a while now, and it really came to light when I visited a family.

"The mother of two teenage girls mentioned that she'd gone without meals to provide sanitary towels for one of her daughters, who had problems with her periods and needed more sanitary products than most.

"I've heard of young women using one tampon all day, and we all know the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome."

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins, and can be caused by leaving a tampon in for too long, allowing bacteria to multiply.

Coun Fisher feels so strongly about the issue, she brought a motion to Mansfield District Council at a meeting last night (November 20), in a bid to tackle period poverty.

The motion sets out ways in which members of the public and MDC can help women affected.

Coun Fisher's motion aims to:

1. Write to the Government asking them to abolish the 5% VAT on sanitary products and to commit to a universal system of free sanitary products.

2. Set up regular collections of sanitary products at Mansfield District Council offices to be distributed to appropriate locations across the District.

3. Contact local women’s organisations to talk about ways we can work together and support them.

Councillors expressed support for this motion, and voting was unanimous in support.

Coun Fisher said: "VAT is for luxury items - how can a sanitary towel be a luxury, when it's something you need?

"We are looking to have free sanitary products in place in schools, food banks, homeless shelters and women's charities, as there is not much left in the way of Women's Aid anymore.

"Hopefully it will break down taboos and encourage women, especially young women, to talk about it."

Coun Fishers's plan is to encourage residents to pick up a sanitary product when they are out shopping, and donate them at a drop off point, which she hopes to have set up all around the town for convenience.

If anybody would like to donate sanitary products, or discuss how they can support the cause, please contact Coun Fisher on 07598112495 or afisher@mansfield.gov.uk