The Duchess of Edinburgh visited a London school where some girls cannot afford sanitary products as she fights to break down period taboos and myths.
Sophie, Prince Edward’s wife, attended a workshop for girls aged 15-18 to raise awareness about menstrual issues at Harris Girls Academy in East Dulwich.
During the workshop, the duchess was told that some of the girls were aware of friends who had to stay at home during their periods because they couldn’t afford sanitary pads.
The reason behind some young girls missing school is both inadequate access to female hygiene products and shame surrounding periods, according to Bodyform.
The duchess is fighting to break town period taboos and myths.
The duchess, 59, said that these taboos need to be broken down by taking tampons “out of the closet” and displaying these products at home to normalise periods.
Period poverty is an issue facing young girls living in the UK today with 1 in 10 women between 14 and 21 years of age unable to afford menstrual products, according to Plan International UK.
Period poverty also has consequences on girl’s education; it was found that 49 percent of girls in the UK have missed a whole day of school because of their period.
The duchess also dispelled myths about tampon size relating to body shape rather than flow.
The duchess met with girls and boys at Harris Girls’ Academy.
She stated: “If you were going shopping and your friends are going for the mini and regular tampons are you going to feel self-conscious saying; ‘I need the big guns?’”
The duchess explained that larger tampons are not for girls who are “really big down there” but are made for women with heavier periods.
The workshop was also open for boys to attend; the duchess told three boys who joined at the end that they were “very brave” to talk openly about periods.
She said: “I think bringing boys into the conversation is very important. I’ve been to many countries around the world and other countries seem to be more progressive.”
The duchess stands with a teacher at the workshop yesterday.
The duchess is a patron of Wellbeing of Women.
Sophie was joined at the event but Lynn Cooper, Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London and Prof Dame Lesley Regan, chairman of Wellbeing of Woman and Women’s Health Ambassador.
Dame Lesley explained that conversation surrounding girl’s periods needs to begin at an earlier age and in a positive light.
Lesley stated: “Ten is now the average age that girls start to menstruate so they need to know about it earlier. Not masses of details but something to put over in a positive way.”
In 2021, the cost of period products in the UK was set to reduce as the government removed the “tampon tax” on women’s menstrual products.
However, in 2022, The Guardian found that women were barely affected by the policy as retailers did not fully lower their prices and tampon prices only reduced by 1 percent.