The Green Party are yet to publish their manifesto but a month away from election day they are the first party to mention periods.
The Green Party of England and Wales is promising free sanitary products for those who cannot afford them if they were to be elected into government next month.
Despite the general election lead-up being dominated by conversations surrounding Brexit, taxation and tuition fees, the Green Party have brought the focus back to the rights of women and girls, and the fundamental right that every woman should have access to sanitary products.
The party, currently led by co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Barley, has pledged to end “period poverty” in the UK by providing sanitary towels and tampons to secondary school pupils and women in financial need.
Sanitary products are not exempt from VAT and currently have a 5% tax label, which has previously caused controversy and campaigns to end the tax on them have taken place in countries across the globe, with 320,000 people signing a petition to abolish it here in the UK.
The Greens have said that this project could be funded by adding VAT to some products that are currently exempt, like jaffa cakes and men’s razors. But in particular the party singled out aircraft repairs and “the sale of airships” as areas they would prioritise. They also said they would work with health companies to provide the free products.
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who has pressed the European Parliament for a VAT exemption on tampons, towels and mooncups, said it was an “outrage those on low incomes are forced to use socks or newspapers during their period because they can’t afford a sanitary product”.
This is following a report released earlier this year that revealed girls from low-income families were missing out on days at school during their time of the month due to being unable to afford tampons and pads.
It is estimated that 21% of women in the UK are currently living in poverty, compared to 19% of men and many low-income women are relying on accessing tampons and pads at food banks, where hygiene items are supplied as well as food, cosmetics and household items.
The Greens’ initiative marks the first mention of periods from any political party so far in the run up to the general election on June 8.