Gabby Edlin's Bloody Good Fight

Periods: they're bloody difficult for us all. Whether it's the cramping and bloating, the craving for junk food that makes you break out, or feeling irritable, there's no denying that it sucks. But at least you can afford to manage it. Sure, the tampon tax sucks and is indicative of a much larger issue of patriarchy within our society, but I'm sure that most of you reading this can afford to get through it despite how it may anger you. Others are not so fortunate. 

According to the Independent, in the UK alone, more than 137,700 girls missed school last year because they were unable to afford sanitary products, revealing a terrifying truth about the current situation for young women in poverty. This is what has become known as 'period poverty' - where women are deprived of essential sanitary products because they simple cannot afford them. If we look at the numbers, this is hardly surprising; the average lifetime cost of these products for women is £4800 (according to Bloody Good Period), a staggering and frankly ridiculous amount. 

It is not only an ideological and financial concern that is revealed through these statistics; there are far more dangerous issues to consider. As aforementioned, a lack of sanitary products can cause many women to miss school/work for fear of leaking onto their clothing and being embarrassed of their own bodily functions. This has dire consequences as these women fall behind, struggling academically and perhaps being disciplined at work for their attendance issues. Periods should not be a debilitating condition for most women and the fact that so many women's wider lives are affected in this way is truly unacceptable.

Further to this, there have been numerous cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a potentially fatal disease caused by wearing a tampon for more than the advisable length of time, as poverty-stricken women have no choice but to wear the same tampon for an inadvisable quantity due to their lack of funds to purchase an adequate amount of tampons. The fact that the lack of available sanitary products could potentially lead to death is mind boggling and makes solving the issue even more potent.

So what is being done to try and alleviate this? Gabby Edlin founded the charity Bloody Good Period after volunteering in a local homeless shelter and finding out that sanitary products were not considered 'essential items' for people to collect. This is reminiscent of the same ideology present in our government who, until recently, failed to define these products as essential, hence necessitating the tampon tax. The aim of the charity is simple: to provide free sanitary products to those in need who are unable to afford their own. This means collecting pads as donations and distributing them to asylum seekers, refugees and anyone who is unable to afford the products. 

Bloody Good Period are also educating people about periods, helping to end the stigma that is so often associated with them. If you go onto their website (https://www.bloodygoodperiod.com/) they have a blog which discusses different aspects of menstruation, such as the way in which it can affect a woman's mental health and evaluating the pros and cons of various sanitary products.

The work of this charity cannot be underestimated. Not only are they providing an essential service to thousands of women who are in desperate need, but they are helping to try and normalise periods which receive unnecessary derision for being such a mundane part of a woman's life. In a world where the struggles of menstruating women go unacknowledged and misunderstood, it is people like Gabby that we need to raise awareness and really make a difference.

PS - if anyone feels inspired to help, we will be collecting for Bloody Good Period this Sunday 18th November outside the Co-operative on Whiteladies Road from 9am-5pm - please come along and donate to this worthy cause!