Freedom4Girls is a Leeds based charity fighting period poverty. Aiming to support those who menstruate, they challenge the taboos, stigmas and gender inequalities surrounding periods via providing menstrual health management solutions and education, whilst being at the forefront of the wider period poverty campaign. Additionally, Freedom4Girls run projects in regions of East Africa, largely across Uganda and Kenya.
In 2017, a report by Plan International found period poverty consisted of a "toxic trio" of factors:
1. The cost of menstrual products
2. Lack of education around menstruation
3. Taboo, stigma and shame associated with periods
These factors influence the philosophy, aims and mission of Freedom4Girls and their everyday practice. The charity is passionate about education, highlighting the importance of normalising conversations about menstruation, in a bid to challenge the myths and stigmas associated with periods. Ultimately, their vision is a world where no girl or woman experiences period poverty or stigma associated with menstruation.
How Do Freedom4Girls Tackle Period Poverty?
Freedom4Girls ultimate goal is to address and tackle the factors surrounding period poverty, striving for menstrual equality among all women, girls and people who menstruate.
Provision of Period Products - The charity provides period products to people in Leeds, West Yorkshire and other regions of the UK, as well as in Kenya and Uganda. Their donation station model allows members of the public, small businesses and larger companies to donate menstrual products, which means Freedom4Girls is able to offer a choice of products to those who need them the most. Currently, the charity is aiming to increase provision of sustainable menstrual products including reusable pads, menstrual cups, and period underwear.
Education Workshops - Believing that education is a huge part of addressing period poverty, the charity delivers an empowerment and holistic focused education programme for young people. These sessions provide education into the reasons behind menstrual cramps, reasons for and how to treat PMS, and connecting young women and girls around the world. As a result, this can have a positive impact on a young person's self esteem and confidence, enabling them to feel comfortable in their own bodies.
In East Africa, while access to period products is different to in the UK, the same difficulties around stigma, misinformation and gender equality are still present. For women and girls in rural areas, it's often difficult to access menstrual products, and even when they are available, they are incredibly expensive. Without menstrual protection, many girls miss school and sometimes drop out completely, resulting in a lack of opportunities. In some cases, period poverty can even result in transactional sex in order to pay for menstrual products, and teenage pregnancies as a result of lack of understanding around periods. Freedom4Girls provide washable-reusable period packs, which last up to three years, and these allow young women and girls to stay in school while experiencing her period comfortably and safely, with dignity.
In 2017, Freedom4Girls contributed to research by Plan International for their 'Break the Barriers' report, which revealed some shocking statistics around period poverty in the UK and the impact it has.
- 1 in 4 young women and girls said they felt unprepared for the start of their period, while 1 in 7 said they didn't even know what was happening.
- 27% of girls in the UK had overused a sanitary product because they couldn't afford a fresh one.
- 40% of UK girls resorted to using toilet roll because they couldn't afford sanitary products.
Freedom4Girls have been involved in the government consultation that helped to provide state funded free period products in schools, and still maintain their place within the government's task force, looking at how period poverty is addressed on a national level.
The charity works with a range of product providers, corporate partners and voluntary agencies to address period poverty, and as of May 2020, they have educated over 10,000 young people. Additionally, they have supported the donation of tens of thousands of disposable and reusable menstrual products.
How You Can Help
This March, in honour of International Women’s Day, we’re delighted to be supporting Freedom4Girls in our charity poll. You can help the charity on their mission to ensure no woman or girl is held back by her period by casting your vote for them today.
To find out more about Freedom4Girls and how you can get involved with their work, visit their website: https://www.freedom4girls.co.uk/.