We are delighted to support our partner We are Girls in Sport who has today announced the launch of its 'Play On' campaign, offering free period wear in sports club and venue toilets.
Launching on October 11th, UNICEF's International Day of the Girl, the objective of the 'Play On' campaign is for sports clubs and venues, from grassroots to elite level, to provide free period wear for players, investing in adolescent girls and prioritising their wellbeing.
We are Girls in Sport co-founder Caroline Kings used a toilet at a local community football club and was horrified to find the only toilet available had a sign on the wall reading: 'If you require sanitary wear, please ask at the café.'
As Caroline explains, "Picture this: a young teenage girl who's just realised that her period's started, and she doesn't have a tampon or a pad. That girl has to finish in the toilet, perhaps having to improvise to clean herself up, and then stand in a queue of mums, dads, spectators and players waiting for their Saturday morning bacon butty, and then ask for a pad or tampon. Imagine the anxiety as she waits. Does she need to pay for it? Does she even have any money on her? Will everyone hear her?"
According to Women in Sport there is an almost 50 per cent drop out rate of teenage girls when it comes to being active and one of the many reasons this statistic is so high is periods. Adolescent girls feel self-conscious at the best of times but with their period as well, these feelings are exacerbated.
Periods can be unpredictable, and girls may be unprepared when their period comes if they are at a sports club rather than at home. While some girls may feel confident enough to ask a teammate, newcomers, the less confident, or someone who's short on time, mid-match, say, may not, leading to less than adequate substitutes for period wear. Worse still, because of the embarrassment, or feeling uncomfortable, girls without period wear may end up leaving and going home, perhaps feeling too embarrassed to return.
Caroline Kings adds: "We need to make it easier for girls to play sport, not harder, so that they can reap the socio-economic, mental and physical health benefits of being active. Inspired by conversations with The Times Sportswomen of the Year Changemaker Award 2022 winner, Dr Emma Ross of The Well HQ, and seeing the hurdles sporty girls face when it comes to periods first hand, We are Girls in Sport is launching this campaign to help girls play on."
The impact of providing free period wear with Play On
The Play On campaign aims at ensuring every sporting venue is period-friendly, demonstrating that it is girl-friendly too. Girls may be intimidated by venues that are typically male dominated, such as football or rugby clubs, but We are Girls in Sport believes free period wear offers a clear sign that girls are welcome. It shows that the club wants to assist girls on their sporting journey; it wants them to play on, no matter their menstrual cycle.
Caroline Kings co-founder We are Girls in Sport says: "As the cost-of-living crisis continues around the world, period poverty will increase too. Period poverty can impact girls' involvement in sport but by providing free period wear, clubs will be helping in some way. We are Girls in Sport wants girls to know that their periods don't have to get in the way of them being active. If we can offer that support through the Play On campaign, then girls are more likely to turn up and continue playing, continuing healthy habits for both mind and body, acquiring skills to take into other parts of their lives and cultivating new friendships."
Resources for clubs and girls
Any club who wishes to get involved can Caroline Kings directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and they can also access a starter pack from FabLittleBags, which includes tampons and pads from period wear brand, Freda and FabLittleBags.
There are also resources at www.wearegirlsinsport.com/