Sarah Wagner, the Women’s officer, gives an overview about Period Pride this week
A campaign that would have been bloody (wait for the pun) difficult to miss in the past two years is #FreePeriods, a national challenge to the 5% tax levied on menstrual care products.
This means that the products millions of people need once a month are still classified as ‘luxury items’. Balsamic vinegar, on the other hand, is an “essential item”, which tells us that having balsamic dressing on your salad is more important than menstruation. Students’ Unions, including Essex, subsidise the tax themselves so that their staff and students don’t have to pay extra on sanitary products. This is amazing, but let’s not stop here! Even not focusing on the ‘luxury tax’, worldwide, periods cost approximately £18,000 per person per lifetime – this is one of the many reasons why so many people in the world do not have access to sanitary products.
“Worldwide, periods cost approximately £18,000 per person per lifetime “
For these reasons, Essex is celebrating its first Period Pride Week. Period Pride Week will help us to look at different sides of menstruation and the events will open to everyone. Over the course of the week 13th – 18th of February, we will raise funds for sanitary products to be provided at the Colchester Refuge. Also, we celebrate Period Pride during the same time as LGBT* history month, and therefore it is crucial to focus on trans-people, menstruation and language barriers. Moreover, we are also celebrating Go Green Week: mainstream menstruation products have a big effect on the environment and therefore it is crucial to discuss alternatives to tampons and pads. There will be an opportunity to even buy a menstrual cup for a discounted price during Period Pride.
In the US, most states do not even consider menstrual hygiene products “essential items”. As Essex is such an international community, the Feminist Society will be hosting a discussion on the meaning of menstruation in different cultures and countries. We will end Period Pride with a panel debate on all these various backgrounds of why it is so important to have #PeriodPride. Leaflets are available in SU venues around campus and on essex.su/periodpride.