It may be 2018, but girls in the UK are still frequently missing school because they can't afford sanitary products. More than 137,700 10 to 18-year-olds missed out on their education last year because of period poverty. That's roughly 7% of schoolgirls missing an average of five days of school in a year because of something that most people with periods don't need to think twice about: whether they should spend money on food or sanitary pads.
Period poverty remains endemic and underreported around the world, but in the UK at least, public awareness of the problem has grown in recent years. There was an outcry in March 2017 when a Leeds teacher revealed that pupils weren't coming in during their periods and were using socks instead of tampons or pads; and there were celebrations when the government announced in March that tampon tax funding would go towards ending period poverty for the first time.
Now, the topic is being used to inspire art. A group of prominent Instapoets have taken on the issue, penning works about the stigma surrounding periods and the shame linked to period poverty and posting them on social media. Poets including Nikita Gill, Hollie McNish, Greta Bellamacina and Jen Campbell, and bloggers including Grace Victory, have written bespoke verses as part of the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign. Always, which is spearheading the initiative, will donate a pad to The Red Box Project for every like or comment the Instapoems receive. There couldn't be an easier way to show your support for a good cause. Click through to read the poems.