“If it’s a choice between electricity, snacks for the kids, or sanitary towels … Even that £2 at the end of the month matters,” says Kerry, from Aberdeen.
The 35-year-old is raising three teenagers alone – a daughter and two boys with autism. She doesn’t need to explain what gets sacrificed as she chooses between food, heating and other essentials for the children, and sanitary products for herself.
It isn’t hard to see why sanitary products are often out of reach. Research shows pads and tampons cost women around £13 every month. Add another £8 for new underwear, and then almost a fiver for pain relief. That means women need to find more than £300 each year for periods – or the equivalent of a fortnight’s rent.
See the leap there?
The average woman spends £300 a year. Thus poverty!
But the welfare state promises housing, an income, not a mansion nor even a median income.
So let’s return to the initial problem. Is it true that tampons are unaffordable? A quick look around Amazon or Morrison’s, to take two examples, tells us that own brands are of the order of 5p each, £1 for a box of 20 tampons. It is undoubtedly true that many will prefer branded to own-brand, which is why there are so many on the shelves. But even they seem to be little more than twice that price. I could also make the point here about the welfare state and our duty to the less well-off: we promise adequate housing, not a mansion; bus fare not a limo ride.
It’s actually a £12 a year problem. One that’s easily enough solved too. Just send each woman £12 a year and we’re done.