(Photo Credit: Burin Kul)

Sanitary products such as pads and tampons may be provided for free in Southwark public toilets.

The Southwark Liberal Democrats proposed a motion for the council meeting that called on the authority to provide free period products in all of its public toilets and buildings. They also called for sanitary bins in all council toilets.

The Southwark Labour group weakened the Liberal Democrat motion with an amendment which means that these policies will be explored, instead of directly being implemented. However, all councilors voted for the amended version.

The Southwark Liberal Democrat Rachel Bentley is the one who proposed the motion. She is a supporter of human rights and female empowerment. In a press release, she said: “People of all ages should be able to participate fully in life with dignity. This motion is an important step towards that as it would stop people worrying about sanitary products or how to dispose of personal hygiene items safely when outside of their homes.”

She added: “I’m delighted to see this Liberal Democrat motion be adopted and rest assured I will be working with my colleagues to ensure this becomes a reality across Southwark’s public toilets and buildings.”

Scotland was the first country in the world to make period products free for everyone. The legal action that aimed to reduce period poverty was taken in August 2022.

According to a survey by Plan International UK, as citizens are in the middle of one of the worst cost-of-living crises for 40 years, a poll of 1,000 UK girls aged 14-21 revealed that over one in four (28 per cent) are struggling to afford period products. Also, nearly one in five (19 per cent) reported being unable to afford period products at all since the start of 2022.

The survey also revealed that lack of knowledge of where to go (44 per cent) or whom to ask (38 per cent) to find a source of free period products are the top two barriers preventing girls who have struggled to afford them.

Rachel Bentley thinks, the thought that women and girls may be skipping meals in London in 2022 to afford basic items like sanitary products is appalling. Knowing that they can find them in readily accessible public buildings, such as libraries, is a huge step forward in her opinion.