Cardiff to promote period dignity in schools

A new scheme to promote period dignity amongst girls and young women in Cardiff, is to be rolled out to primary and secondary schools from spring term 2019. 

The £1.14 million Welsh Government funding, aims to help tackle stigmaand address period poverty in communities,whilst improving school facilities to ensure dignity for girls and young women.The programme also contributes to Cardiff's commitment to becoming a Child Friendly City, where the views and priorities of children are at the heart of decision making. 

Last summer a period dignity survey was carried out in Cardiff secondary schools to gain young women's views about the issue of period dignity and to consult on how they would like to access free feminine hygiene products. Key findings showed that; 

  • Although the majority of schools currently provide free sanitary products, less than half of secondary school students were aware of this.
  • Half of the students responding stated sanitary products are currently available from the school reception area but they would prefer to access them from a dispenser inside the toilet's or cubicles.
  • Almost a third of students felt their period impacted negatively on their school attendance with two-fifths of pupils felt their periods had negatively impacted on their school performance. 

Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Councillor Sarah Merry said "Cardiff Council is committed to being a Child Friendly City where the voices and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions.

"The Period Dignity survey was carried out so we could ensure that the views of girls and young women were heard and acted upon, as we aim to work with children and young people to identify issues and co-produce solutions. 

"This includes removing barriers to education, such as ensuring girls and young women in primary and secondary schools are treated with dignity and respect, including having access to free feminine hygiene products." 

A pilot was subsequently carried out inEastern High School, Cathays High School, Adamsdown Primary School and Grangetown Primary. Significant elements of the pilot included; 

  • Free access to sanitary products within identified toilet cubicles and in ‘Red Boxes' held by designated staff;
  • Raising awareness of the programme to staff and students through presentations, assemblies, posters and stickers on cubicle doors;
  • Focus groups with female students about education on menstruation, with a view to developing relevant lessons and resources for schools to meet the needs of young people;
  • Evaluation by school staff and female students in pilot schools.

Councillor Merry added: "It is vital that our young women and girls never feel shame in relation to their periods and this project will help to address this as well as the matter of affordability. 

"Over £117,000 is allocated to Cardiff to helpensure that all girls and young women can access good sanitary facilities when they need them, including free feminine hygiene products and additional sanitary bins."