I remember when I got my first ever period. It was Valentine’s Day and I was 13. I was so unprepared for the incredibly painful cramps that continued all throughout my teenage years and was terrified to use a tampon. Being an incredibly shy and introverted teen, the thought of asking a teacher for pad was too humiliating to even consider. So I used a wad of toilet paper, tried to suppress the pain and pretended everything was completely fine. And that wasn’t the only time.
Sadly, I’m not alone in this experience. Nearly 1000 teenagers from all over Australia filled out our Rosie Period Survey, and a significantly higher number of students said that they would rather use toilet paper if they didn’t have a pad or tampon, than ask a teacher. Lack of access to menstrual products was a recurring theme in the comments section:
“I’m actually not sure if my school provides access to sanitary products! Teachers don’t tell us and there isn’t a comfortable space to ask” and “even just today I have run out and don’t have money to buy anything.” – Laura*, 14 years old, VIC
“Lots of girls have to miss school because of their period and it would be awesome to have a safe space at school to go for pads.” – Lucy*, 14 years old, WA
“The main thing for me and my friends is the accessibility of sanitary products, even just today I have run out and don’t have money to buy anything. Making do with what I’ve got at the moment! And it’s not just me, it happens a lot.” – Hannah*, 16 years old, NSW
We understand the importance of feeling supported and respected during this already difficult time of puberty. That’s why we’ve started a petition calling on state and territory Education and Health Ministers to provide free menstrual products in school bathrooms, so that every student can navigate their school years with dignity and respect. The Victorian State Government has already pledged to do so, and we think it’s #AboutBloodyTime the rest of Australia does the same.
And what a response we’ve had already! This week alone, we’ve gathered over 1200 signatures in support of the campaign. People all over the country are adding their voice to this campaign because they know it’s #AboutBloodyTime things changed. There’s a real buzz around the period movement at the moment, you can feel it. People are throwing their support behind this petition – here’s what they’re saying:
“Dignity should underpin our school system, this program is a great big step towards this goal.”
“Take the added stress out of life for female students by providing free menstrual products in schools.”
“This would literally be a life-changer for some people. Please, on behalf of every girl in Australia, consider this issue seriously.”
“Please support the young girls and women of Australia. They are your future voters don’t forget.”
We are determined to help students get the support they desperately need and deserve, and we won’t stop until this issue is addressed by Australian Health and Education Ministers.
But we can’t do it without you – please sign this petition and share it with your friends and networks, and help create a better, more equal future for young Australians.
Artwork by Alice Lindstrom.
Maddy is the Rosie Editor and regularly writes for the Rosie Blog. She is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.