It’s International Women’s Day. Here in the UK, 137,000 girls regularly miss school because they can’t afford sanitary products. When we think of poverty, we usually think food or shelter, but this just-as-devastating need goes almost totally unseen – and that only perpetuates the problem. So today, we’re choosing to focus our generosity on period poverty.

Green: Spend some time looking into local groups that give free sanitary care to schools.

Amber: Go shopping. And drop off a package in a donation box in your local area.

Red:
Do your bit to educate. Get the word out on social media – even though it’s awkward.

“…A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:24–29 NIV)

There’s a hidden, secret kind of poverty in the UK in 2019 which needs to be addressed, and today we’re shining a light on it.

Many young girls are missing school on a regular basis because they’re suffering from period poverty. On average, it costs £13 a month to buy sanitary products, and for some hard-pressed households, that’s just too much. Food or heating has to come first. The stats are shocking. According to Plan International UK, 1 in 10 girls can’t afford sanitary products and over 137,700 children have missed school because of period poverty; 40% have used toilet roll as a substitute.  

Imagine the shame and stigma of living like this. As if hormones, spots, mood swings and dealing with changes in your body aren’t enough, many girls are being robbed of their dignity because of this issue. Missing school for several days every month impacts on girls’ educational achievements and sets up shame and low self-esteem at a time when they already have so much to deal with.

Jesus cared for the woman suffering from bleeding in the bible. He told her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’ Issues which we might find shameful or embarrassing are not to him. He cares about us so much that he longs for this stigma to be brought to an end. How can you help today? Ask your local foodbank if they need sanitary products and add them to your monthly shopping list. You can click on the links below to find out what else you can do to help.

Things that seem small to us can be huge to others. Today, spending an extra £13 per month on your shopping bill (that’s just over 43p a day) could be the difference between misery and shame, and dignity and self-care. If we all work together, by this time next year, period poverty in the UK could be consigned to the history books, where it belongs.

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I’m a thirty-something Geordie, working for a management and leadership training organisation here in the North East and loving it.  I’m really active in my local church and basically love ‘the church’ in general. 
I’m passionate about many causes and charities and have had the privilege of visiting places like Tanzania and Mumbai, working for one of my favourite charities, volunteering at black tie events in The Savoy and working in two very different churches.  Basically, I want to do what I can, where I can, and hopefully have fun doing it!
website: www.friendlydevelopment.co.uk
https://www.freeperiods.org/mission/
http://redboxproject.org/about/https://plan-uk.org/media-centre/plan-international-uks-research-on-period-poverty-and-stigma
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