Lawyers unite to help eradicate #PeriodPoverty
2017 statistics revealed that in the UK, 49% of girls missed an entire day of school because of their period, whilst 1 in 10 young women aged 14 to 21 were unable to afford period products. In London alone, 80,000 young women and girls had been affected by period poverty.
In July 2018, the Scottish government became the first national government to provide free access to menstrual products in all schools, colleges and universities. In Wales, the government pledged £1m to address period poverty whilst in England, no policies were in place.
In January 2019, Amika George, Founder of Free Periods and ‘period poverty’ activist, announced a new legal campaign to provide free menstrual products to all schoolchildren. Lawyers from Hausfeld, Free Periods and the Red Box Project teamed up behind Amika to help launch the campaign with CrowdJustice to eliminate Period Poverty. The campaign launched with a Crowdfunding drive to raise funds. Hausfeld’s lawyers offered their time for free.
Hausfeld examined the legal issues and explored avenues to hold Government to account and to ensure it complies with its obligations. Our lawyers built an Equality Act case, i.e. inequity in access to education, with 1 in 7 children in London not fully participating in education because of the hidden barrier of being unable to afford sanitary products. The right to education is a fundamental human right and no child should be forced to miss school as a result of not being able to afford pads or tampons.
Ingrid Gubbay, Head of the HR & Environment practice at Hausfeld London, said:
“This was very much a collaborative project. Amika started her social media campaign in 2017, when she discovered girls were not attending school due to the hidden embarrassment of not being able to afford sanitary products. The Red Box Project campaigns and provides red boxes - now totalling some 3,600 - with free period products to local schools. With the right to education a fundamental human right, Hausfeld explored legal avenues to hold Government to account and to ensure it complied with its legal obligations. By coordinating our efforts, we became a stronger force.”
Wessen Jazrawi, Partner, adds:
“Social media enabled Amika George to create awareness around Period Poverty which was picked up by major news outlets. We then converted ‘awareness’ into the real possibility of legal action. The fact that we were all lawyers, except for Amika, facilitated understanding across three, essentially, different organisations. It also shows that the whole is more than the sum of its parts: by combining the efforts of two campaigning organisations and adding the weight of Hausfeld’s legal expertise, the upshot was much more powerful and effective.”
In April 2019, the Government confirmed funding for free sanitary products for all English schools and colleges from early 2020. Justice was obtained on behalf of all school children in England.
In what was a nice by-product of the campaign, the ‘Hausfeld, Free Periods and Red Box Project’ was shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in Access to Justice’ category of these annual awards.The Law Society’s 2019 Legal Excellence Awards