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Newcastle College staff and students celebrate expansion of free sanitary products #IWD2019

International Women’s Day celebrations will mark period poverty campaign victory adoption of new guidance to deal with domestic abuse and with sexual harassment

Shadow equalities minister praises union’s campaign and urges more colleges to adopt the initiative

Staff and students at Newcastle College will be celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday (8 March) as a pioneering initiative to ensure students have access to free sanitary products is to be rolled out across the college’s seven campuses from April.

The campaign was originally launched in October by members of the local branch of the University and College Union (UCU). They bought products to be handed out by student mentors and encouraged staff to donate products to support the campaign against period poverty.

Newcastle College has now said it will be providing free sanitary products for students at all its campuses from the start of the summer term.

A 2017 survey found that one in 10 young women aged 14-21 had been unable to afford sanitary products. It also discovered that 12% of those surveyed had to improvise sanitary wear and one in five had changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.

The college has also agreed to adopt new guidance from the union for managers on dealing with domestic abuse and with sexual harassment. The union is marking these successes as part of its International Women’s Day celebrations which will include performances from the Bangshees and the Singing Stellas.

UCU branch secretary Anya Cook said:

‘To have moved from UCU members providing sanitary products for students to combat period poverty to the initiative being rolled out across the college in a matter of months is phenomenal.

‘No student should have to stay away from college because they can’t afford sanitary products. On International Women’s Day, we want to see more colleges and universities follow our lead and ensure all women can attend classes in comfort and in dignity.’

Shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Dawn Butler MP said:

‘It’s absolutely fantastic news and I want to thank everybody at Newcastle College who have secured funding for free sanitary products at the college. Providing these free products will transform women’s lives as it takes away the worry and stress. I really hope this initiative will continue at colleges around the UK.’

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