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UNsanitary Pads campaign

1 in 6 UK women reveal they or a family member have been affected by period poverty

New UNsanitary pads campaign highlights shocking reality that unsanitary products such as socks and newspapers are being used in place of period products

The campaign features a new range of stylishly packaged period products, but they are not what they seem. The packs in fact contain UNsanitary items such as loo roll, newspapers and socks – representing what thousands of girls and young women resort to as they are not able to afford period products.

Research undertaken to launch the initiative reveals that 1 in 6 (17%) UK women or members of their family have been affected by period poverty,[i] and therefore not been able to access sanitary products. This supports previous research which showed 1 in 10 girls and young women aged 14 to 21 in the UK are unable to afford sanitary wear,[ii] yet 45% of the public remain unaware of this enormous problem.[iii] Meanwhile 52% of UK adults say they are unaware that some girls and young women in the UK use unsanitary items in place of period products due to their expense, including loo rolls, newspaper, socks and leaves.3

Reflecting a need for greater awareness and action, the latest research shows 49% of Britons say they are ‘ashamed’ period poverty exists in the UK and 38% are ‘appalled’3. Four in ten (37 per cent) say the nature of the problem makes them now fear for girls growing up in the UK.3

Hey Girls founder, Celia Hodson, said: “Period poverty simply shouldn’t be an issue in the UK today. It seriously affects lives and is simply unacceptable. Progress is being made – schools  in Scotland have had access to free period products for over 12 months, and schools in England can now opt in to free period products being made available to them, but there’s much more to be done; especially for girls that aren’t in school, in schools that haven’t opted into the scheme, and for those in higher education.”

The UNsanitary pads campaign launched at ASDA stores in Clapham Junction and Bristol today where Celia gave out the UNsanitary pad packs to customers to raise awareness of period poverty in the UK.

Dr Brooke Vandermolen, obstetrics and gynaecology expert, said: “Girls and women need to be able to manage their periods safely and hygienically. Lack of access to period products can have far-reaching effects, from anxiety and depression to missed education and health issues. Without good menstrual hygiene, in extreme cases there’s risk of urinary tract and vaginal infections and rashes which can lead to complications.”

Period poverty typically refers to having a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints[iv]. Sanitary products are classed as non-essential, taxable, luxury items in the UK.

To learn more about the UNsanitary campaign visit or follow the ‘brand’ on Instagram @uk_unsanitary for the latest updates.

[i] Opinium Research. Online survey from 7 – 10 February 2020 of 1024 women aged 18+ in the UK

[ii] Plan International UK. 2017. Survey of 1,000 girls and women aged 14-21 years

[iii] Opinium Research. Online survey from 7 – 10 February 2020 of 2002 women and men aged 18+ in the UK

[iv] Royal College of Nursing. Period poverty debate. 2019. Available at: Last accessed February 2020