The Red Box Project is a community funded initiative to ensure that no young woman misses school because she has her period and cannot afford sanitary products. Children in the UK are missing school and missing out on vital education. For a disadvantaged young woman, education is her path up and out to a better future. Falling behind or missing out on lessons simply because she has her period is unacceptable. The Red Box Project encourages groups of women to form a community and sponsor a Red Box in a school near them, working together to keep it filled with sanitary towels and spare pants. The box is easily accessible through an appropriate member of staff and plain bags are included for discretion. Posters placed in the girl’s lavatories signpost the box, it’s content and location.
Overstretched teachers already take on the responsibility of helping pupils in need and schools keep small stocks of sanitary items for emergencies. The problem is that limited budgets mean they are usually able to hand out only a couple at a time. The Red Box will support disadvantaged young women throughout their period with the reassurance of one or two sanitary towels left over to prevent a panic next month. This is what makes the project special: No tearful panics in the loo. No wadded up toilet roll. No anxious embarrassment. No missed lessons or staying home. No missed education.
The project creators commented “The Red Box Project is entirely funded by community kindness, woman to young woman. It is designed to be a simple, no frills scheme to meet a need with minimal fuss. Their education will shape their future and their dignity is our responsibility. We can’t expect schools to do this alone! We strongly felt it was time for communities of women to step up, work together and help.”
The scheme was trialled in schools within the Portsmouth area before being rolled out to other communities at the beginning of April. Women in London, Brighton, Guildford and Bristol – and Montana, USA – signed up within hours of the project’s launch. A bill is about to go through the Scottish Parliament to make it a requirement for Scottish schools to provide free sanitary items. A petition has been launched in England calling on the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to do the same here. It currently has over 50,000 signatures.