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2018 National Women's Conference
1 January 2018

This Conference notes:

Over a woman’s lifetime sanitary products cost more than £5000 with women spending around £13 every month. Many young women, including those menstruating for the first time are unable to access or afford sanitary products. This can have a major impact on women’s and girls physical, mental wellbeing and confidence. It is widely reported that girls and young women are missing their education thereby reducing their life chances as a result of this.

Many women face period poverty having to choose between food and sanitary products, particularly those relying on food banks. Period poverty is a national shame in a wealthy country in the 21st century.

This Conference welcomes that:

• Labour reduced VAT on sanitary products from 17.5 % to 5%. Zero VAT rating will be introduced in 2018.

• In August 2017 TESCO became the first UK supermarket to effectively remove VAT by cutting the price of many women’s sanitary products.

• A members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament brought by MSP Monica Lennon could see a system of universal free access to sanitary products in Scotland.

• A pilot scheme in Aberdeen to provide free sanitary items for women and girls in low income households began in August 2017. We applaud the decision taken in North Ayrshire where all secondary schools in that local authority area have, from August 2017, access to free sanitary products.”

• Labour intends to end period poverty if it gets into power by handing out free sanitary products in schools, food banks and homeless shelters.

This Conference asks the National Women’s Committee to:

1. Continue to campaign to end all poverty affecting women and girls, especially period poverty.

2. To publicise the work of organisations supporting women facing period poverty.

3. To encourage branches and women’s groups to donate to charities collecting sanitary products for women facing period poverty.

4. Work with Labour Link to support campaigns including the Scottish Labour Party’s proposal put forward by Monica Lennon for free sanitary products for females in education and also to support similar campaigns throughout the UK, for example that promoted by Paula Sherriff, Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities.