STUC backs Homeless Period campaign for ‘dignity and respect for all women’

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

#stuc2017 The STUC has backed the Homeless Period campaign to ensure tampons/towels are made available through homeless shelters by the Government.

It will also call on the Scottish Government to undertake a review on the affordability of feminine hygiene products in Scotland and introduce measures to address the inequality of access to sanitary products for women and girls in Scotland.

Seconding the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy motion, UNISON’s Kate Ramsden recalled 10 years ago when Thabitha Khumalo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions addressed UNISON Conference asking for support for Dignity Period, a charity set up by ACTSA to provide sanitary wear for women in Zimbabwe.

“But it is an ongoing issue not just in the developing world but here in the UK”, said Kate. “I am just as appalled at the indignity and the health implications of women and girls across the UK – in the sixth richest country in the world – being unable to afford sanitary wear.

“At a time in Scotland when you can get medication for free, why on earth does sanitary wear cost, and cost so much?”

Reacting to health secretary Shona Robison’s statement that ‘feminine hygiene is not a health issue’, Kate said: “It is most definitely a health issue. What do women and girls do when they can’t afford sanitary wear? Maybe not bark and leaves but most certainly other unsuitable materials, which can result in risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening infections.”

“Shona Robinson is simply wrong to say it’s not a health issue because ‘menstruation is normal.’ Yes it is, but having the wherewithal to deal with it appropriately is entirely income dependent.

“This is a real concern for women who are homeless without access to money or sanitary products but it is also a concern for the many thousands of poor families already dependent on foodbanks to survive.

“It should not be about charity. It should not be about dropping off a packet of tampons or sanitary pads at your local foodbank every once in a while, though no doubt that would be very welcome meantime.

“It should be about a right for women and girls to access sanitary products whatever their means. It is about dignity and respect for all women.”

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