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Council plans to offer free sanitary products in schools

Maesteg Comprehensive School currently uses a charity to provide free sanitary items to its pupils Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Rhondda Cynon Taf could become the first council to provide free sanitary products to all schools in the area to tackle period poverty.

Recent statistics from Plan International show one in ten girls (10%) aged 14-21 in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary wear.

One in seven girls (15%) have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues.

£18,000
is spent on sanitary products by the average woman in a lifetime, figures by VoucherCodesPro shows.

The council voted in favour of the recommendation by a Scrutiny Committee to provide the products for free. It will now go to cabinet for approval.

It's part of a year long campaign by 26-year-old Plaid Cymru councillor, Elyn Stephens.

It has been found to be particularly widespread in low income households.

1 in 7
girls in the UK have struggled to afford sanitary products, says Plan International.

Councillor Stephens says she hopes other local authorities across Wales take the same action:

It is an essential hygiene item, just like toilet paper and soap. I would like to pay tribute to my council and party colleague, councillor Shelley Rees-Owen, who has worked really hard throughout this campaign to progress this important issue. No girl should have to go without sanitary products and suffer in silence and embarrassment. They won’t have to in Rhondda Cynon Taf if the Cabinet rubber stamp this policy as expected. I hope other local authorities across Wales now follow suit.

– Cllr Elyn Stephens, Plaid Cymru

Rhondda AM and plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, praised the work of the councillor:

Thanks to the sterling work of councillor Stephens, RCT Council is set to lead the way in combating period poverty. This will make a big difference to the lives of thousands of young girls in RCT in years to come.

As a new councillor Elyn has worked hard with determination on this issue which she knows is a major cause of concern for so many girls who have to grow up in poverty. I’m pleased that Plaid Cymru is leading the way on this, thanks to Elyn Stephens’ campaign.

– Leanne Wood AM

If approved by the cabinet, the policy could come into force as early as September, in time for the new academic year.

Similar work is ongoing in Bridgend.

The charity Wings Cymru currently donate sanitary products to 14 schools in the area.

They say they hope to be in every school in the borough by the end of the year.