Free and sustainability-sourced tampons and pads were made accessible in three buildings across campus last week, following successful work over summer by the Leicester Students’ Union’s Wellbeing Officer, Karli Wagener, in securing a deal between the University and UK-based social enterprise, Hey Girls.
Although not an original manifesto point, Karli began working on this issue last academic year after gaining more of an insight into the extent of period poverty, with 1 in 10 young people being unable to afford the sanitary products they require. Further learning that the period products provided in the Percy Gee Building were being continually stocked by the Students’ Union, she questioned how the University had been collecting and donating period products to external causes in Leicester when ‘we haven’t solved [period poverty] on our own campus’ yet.
She points out that the University ‘give[s] out condoms when sex is a choice’ but did not previously supply period products to students when ‘periods aren’t a choice, they are something that happens to us’ involuntarily. Reinforcing that ‘period products should be free’ and ‘are a human right’ to all who experience menstruation, this win is a positive step towards ensuring that all students have the facilities they need to study comfortably on campus.
Karli particularly credits last year’s Women’s Officer, Dan Orr, as well as the officers that have campaigned before her over the same issue, and emphasises the enormity of this success in that ‘the university is paying for them and is trying to roll them out in all buildings.’
Scotland recently became the first country in the world to make period products free for all, passing the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill last November, with funding for period products supplied in all schools, colleges and higher education institutions across the country.
Karli argues ‘I don’t see why University of Leicester should not be one of the first universities in England to offer free period products’ across campus – pointing out that tackling period inequality for its own students very much aligns with the University of Leicester’s Citizens of Change campaign.
Free period products from Hey Girls are now available in toilettes in Percy Gee Building, the Library and the Space Park, with more buildings to come throughout the year. Sustainable moon cups are also available (S/L) to pick up from the SU Office.
Look out for updates via @LeicsWellbeing on Instagram in the near future regarding a table event where you can pick up a sustainable moon cup and get your period-product-related questions answered!