Code Pink, a project hoping to reduce both the stigma around periods and the effects of period poverty, have recently launched a fundraiser to help achieve its aims.
Set up by members of Enactus Salford, Code Pink focuses on the education of primary-aged boys, as well as providing sanitary products for their female counterparts.
It’s founder and project leader, second-year Sam Berry, said: “It’s got 3 aims, the primary aim is to reduce the stigma around periods among men, specifically young men because even by high school, it’s a little bit too late, whereas we thought if we spoke to younger lads, they’d gain more empathy and understanding from the get-go.
“The second aim is to educate the boys on periods – us lads have no clue what’s going on. Just the really simple things of what periods are, the effects from it, what products are available, but also try to teach them how girls would feel when they take the mic.
“And the third one is to give young females a more comfortable environment while they’re learning, and hopefully, in the wider world, if we manage to teach enough kids.
“Educating boys is a factor in making the girls feel more comfortable, but it’s also understanding. Young girls miss on average 9 days of school a year because of their period, and if a girl first comes on at school it can be really embarrassing, so it’s making the lads know that if anything does happen, either don’t mention it, or if they haven’t noticed, let them know and help them out, even if it’s just giving them a jumper to put over themselves to hide anything – just be nice, that’s really the key message.”
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The lessons will be led by male students, including Sam, as they believe this will get the message across more effectively.
Sam said: “Having someone that’s a similar age to their brother will make it a lot more personable, it wasn’t so long since I was in school and I can tell you that you need to know more.”
Whilst Coronavirus restrictions remain in place, Code Pink will be delivering their sessions online, and currently have one partner school based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, who will have their lesson on the 15th March.
The team have reached out to primary schools in Salford, as well as across the North West, and hope to expand their work later in the year.
Sam said: “We’re focusing on this school for now, purely for logistical reasons because of Covid, but over the summer, we’re definitely going to try and get as many schools as we can onboard, because once we can go face to face it just makes it so much simpler, so the more support we get the better.”
So far the team have raised £220 out of their target £750, and although some of the money is going towards better recording equipment and software for their lessons, the bulk of the budget will be spent on providing period products to female learners when schools reopen.
Sam explained: “A lot of girls experience period poverty – they don’t have access to a lot of sanitary products – so we’re aiming to get at least 500 packs made.”
In January 2020, the Government made sanitary products free to all primary and secondary schools, however Code Pink believe this scheme does not do enough to tackle period poverty.
Sam said: “They’re just given products, there’s no ‘how to use’, which is important, especially in Manchester with a very diverse population, as not every young girl knows how to use those products, and also a lot of the time they found that the young female learners don’t want to go to the teachers to ask for them.
“The pack we’re giving has a choice of products and a help to use thing, and we’ll tell the schools to have them in the girls toilets because they get more engagement there. It’s just making them a bit more accessible and friendly, they’re in cute little bags as well.”
He continued: “In the government’s own impact assessment it basically says because there’s no education surrounding periods, especially around young men, it doesn’t get rid of the stigma. The scheme doesn’t really hit any of it’s objectives.”
“So I thought something a bit more caring, more educational, would be best, and most schools don’t have the capacity to run these types of things, so at the end of the day, schools, especially our partner, are appreciative that we’re coming from outside and providing this service for free, but that’s a big thing as well- it’s for free, hence why the fundraising is so so needed to make it just that bit better.”