University tackles period poverty

Students and staff at the University of Dundee will make 10,000 sanitary products freely available to raise awareness of the issue of period poverty.

Dundee University Students’ Association (DUSA) and the University’s Student Services are combining their efforts to provide the items this Friday, ahead of a Scottish Government commitment to supply free sanitary products across schools, colleges and universities next year.

Sharon Sweeney, Student Funding Officer, said, “It is crucial that the University supports an initiative that means women do not have to forego their dignity or health due to financial pressures which could result in them having to choose between their health and heating. 

“The Student Funding Unit at the University of Dundee supports many students each year who are in severe financial difficulty due to pressures of insecure work contracts and caring responsibilities which makes stretching a small budget an extreme challenge.

“Where a woman or person with a functioning uterus is pressured into over-extending the practical use of tampons, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a real threat. In extreme cases, women may have life-threatening injuries leading to potential amputation or death.”

The new initiative comes after DUSA’s removal of the tampon tax at shops across the University campuses in January 2016.

Sean O’Connor, DUSA President, said, “DUSA is very proud to have worked in partnership with the University to launch this initiative. This has been an issue repeatedly raised through all levels of student representation at the University, showing the passion students have to tackle Period Poverty.

“The launch of this new initiative is on the same day as the first ever meeting of DUSA’s Women’s Network. This new student group will allow women and non-binary students to discuss issues surrounding gender and influence policy in the University. It will also provide a safe space to discuss solutions to problems they face on campus and in wider society. I am proud that DUSA is playing its part in the struggle for gender equality.”

The sanitary products will be made available after the launch of the initiative on Friday 1 December at 3.30pm. The initiative is supported by Monica Lennon MSP who is currently progressing a Member’s Bill which seeks to end period poverty in Scotland.

She said, “I congratulate the University of Dundee and its Students’ Association in taking proactive steps to tackle period poverty. Access to basic sanitary products is a struggle for many people across the world and here in Scotland, compromising health and wellbeing and making menstruation stressful and disruptive when it needn’t be.

“Students at universities and colleges should never have to skip classes or risk their hygiene when menstruating. Financial pressures on students can make sanitary protection unaffordable and dispensers in public bathrooms, including in education campuses, are all too often empty, faulty or overpriced.

“My proposed Member’s Bill seeks to end period poverty in Scotland by introducing free access to sanitary products in universities, colleges and schools, as well as providing universal access to these products and the public can have their say via until 8th December.”

For media enquiries contact:
Dominic Glasgow
Media Relations Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
Tel: +44 (0)1382 385131