Thursday 14 March 2019 4:02 AM UTC
By A Staff Reporter
LONDON March 14: A Malayalee teenage girl in the United Kingdom has made history with her campaign #FreePeriods, initiated to secure free menstrual products in schools to tackle period poverty, has finally become a reality. Chancellor Philip Hammond, in his Spring Statement, today announced that the government will fund free sanitary products in schools to tackle period poverty.
In 2017 at the age of 17, Amika George, a student at Cambridge University, started #FreePeriods after learning that girls in the United Kingdom are routinely missing school because of period poverty – lack of access to sanitary products due to financial restraints.
On her Twitter account Amika tweeted: “We Did It! 271,000 of you signed the petition, 2,000 of you protested. Today, the government has just pledged to end #periodpoverty by pledging FREE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS in all secondary schools! #FreePeriods”
The Chancellor said the Department for Education would develop the new scheme in time for the next school year in September. Earlier, this month all NHS hospitals in England were directed to offer free tampons or sanitary products to any patient who needs them from this summer.
As a schoolgirl Amika was horrified that a natural, biological function was denying girls their right to an equal education thus compromising their academic attainment and to add to all this it was the government’s silence on the issue which prompted her to start the campaign.
In December 2017, Amika held the #FreePeriods protest outside Downing Street which was attended by over 2,000 young people. Following this, Amika began the #FreePeriods petition, which now has hit more than 270,000.
Although the petition was to get the government doing what they have to, #FreePeriods became a movement where hundreds of thousands of people agree with the cause.
Amika has been featured in a number of national and international publications and recipient of several global awards and recognitions and many awards are awaited in the year 2019 for her works towards this cause is trending within the British media.
In 2019 Amika launched the next phase of the campaign, a new legal campaign which is calling on the UK government to provide free menstrual products in all schools and colleges.
It is the first of its kind in England, which calls for the government to provide designated funding for free provision of menstrual products in all schools and colleges for every child that needs them.
Amika had several meetings with MPs and Lords in Westminster about how to tackle period poverty. Amika has worked hard to persuade major political parties to pledge to address period poverty in their manifestos.
In an interview with BBC she said: “The campaign showed the impact young people could have. I was literally 17 years old, doing it from my laptop in my bedroom.
I think it’s testament to the fact that politics is really changing at the moment. Young people don’t have to rely on MPs to start campaigns, they can do it themselves using social media.”
Amika George is daughter of Kishore George from Kumplampoika in Pathanamthitta district and Nisha George from Kozencherry and has a sibling Millan Goerge. The family are settled in Thiruvananthapuram. In the UK they are settled in north London.
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