If you happened to be strolling through the ASDA in Clapham Junction last week you may have noticed a slight change along the tampon aisle.
Nestled in between more common brands like Tampax and Lil-lets, the boxes of UNsanitary pads looked decidedly elegant; boasting a minimalist, stylish logo and washed in varying hues of muted pink. From a paler shade to a deep maroon (each colour, correlative to the heaviness in flow) the boxes appear at first glance like any other – if not, more appealing – brand of sanitary towels.
Peer a little closer, though, and you will have noticed instead, boxes filled with loo roll, newspaper or folded up socks – each, a representation of what thousands of women and young girls in the UK still resort to using during their menstruation.
Far from a simple statement, however, the brand’s UNsanitary pads are a pivotal step in Celia Hodson’s, founder of the social enterprise Hey Girls, overarching campaign to raise awareness on period poverty in the UK.
In an online survey conducted across over 1000 young women, Hey Girls discovered that 1 in 6 women or members of their family have at some point resorted to using ‘unsanitary pads’ through lack of financially viable alternative.
From complications in physical health to enduring psychological impacts, the effects can be devastating.
According to obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Brooke Vandermolen, in extreme cases, there can be an ‘increased risk of urinary tract and vaginal infections and skin rashes which can escalate and lead to complications.’
Worryingly still, a ‘lack of access to period products can have far-reaching effects, from missed education and health complications to anxiety and depression,’ she says.
And whilst progress is being made, there is still a long way to go.
‘Schools in Scotland have had access to free period products for over 12 months, and schools in England can now opt in to free period products being made available to them,’ says Hodson.
‘But there’s much more to be done; especially for girls that aren’t in school, in schools that haven’t opted into the scheme, and for those in higher education,’ she concludes.
So, how can we help?
You can donate a box of pads or a menstrual cup directly to a person in need through the Hey Girls website.
Alternatively, for every pack purchased for yourself, they will match it in donations.