Personal dignity is vital: why all schools should provide free pads and tampons

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

For many girls around Australia getting a period is a tricky time of the month because they don't have enough money to buy sanitary products.

They make do with scrunched up toilet paper and tissues or skip school altogether.

So, in Victoria, the state government recognised the difficulties facing girls and came up with a sensible solution – it's now supplying free pads, tampons and sanitary bins to all public primary, high and specialist schools.

It's such a great initiative, I'm calling on all state and territory governments to follow suit. Providing access to free sanitary products is so important for girls, it should be rolled-out Australia-wide.

It will also take some of the pressure off groups like Share the Dignity that collect and distribute sanitary products for women and teens experiencing homelessness, domestic violence and poverty.

There are many kids impacted by similar issues and getting to school is hard enough, let alone having to cope with a period without access to sanitary products.

I applaud the Victorian Government for doing something so practical to help girls navigate what is at times confronting, shameful, embarrassing and difficult.

The constant fear that you'll have blood on your school dress or pants is bad enough.

The cramps and headaches are bad enough.

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The disruption to school activities, like swimming and sport, is bad enough.

The worry that you'll be teased if you're seen holding a pad or tampon, by the boys in your class, is bad enough.

Having to be ashamed you can't afford pads and tampons shouldn't also be an added worry.

And it's not just girls who can't afford sanitary products - all girls should have access to these essential items. Pads and tampons are as important as toilet paper and soap, and those things are free at schools. Having sanitary products freely available in all toilets will help reduce the stigma surrounding periods.

I have three girls and I want them to feel comfortable in their school environment and not have to worry about periods. I want them to not be nervous if they're caught without a pad unexpectedly, and just know that when they go to the toilet they can grab one. I want them not to feel like sanitary products should be hidden away, instead just a regular part of life.

Sanitary products should be freely available for all girls and women. Periods are normal. Dignity shouldn't be something just for the wealthy.

It's time other leaders across this country step-up and recognise the importance of ensuring girls in this country have access to free pads and tampons. This is particularly important for girls living in poverty and in regional and remote areas.

No girls should be missing school or stuffing their pants with loo paper and making their own pad alternatives every month. No girls should be ashamed of having a period.

Schooling is important. Periods shouldn't be a barrier to education or self-confidence. Personal dignity is vital.