Girls are skipping school because they can’t afford sanitary products – but the government has “no plans” to help them

Girls in the UK are missing school because they cannot afford basic feminine hygiene products. Yes, you read that right.

A petition was set up to make tampons and sanitary towels free for females. It states:

“Menstruation is a natural part of life for almost every female on the planet. The fact that women have to spend thousands of pounds on their periods whilst free contraception is handed out is absurd and needs to be changed. Menstruation is a lot harder to refrain from than sex.

The average woman spends around £6,000 in her lifetime on tampons and sanitary towels, not including money also spent on pain relief (a further £2,000).”

At the time of writing, almost 63,000 people have signed the petition. In case you don’t know, if a petition reaches 10,000, the government must respond. If it reaches 100,000, it must be debated in parliament.

Sign the petition

The government has responded:

The Government has no plans to make feminine hygiene products available free.

The Tampon Tax Fund was set up in 2016, using the tax raised from the sale of sanitary products to support a range of good causes that focus on improving the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. In 2016, 25 charities were allocated funding and we entered into partnerships with Comic Relief and Rosa to disburse £5.2m of funding to help meet our ambition to reach grassroots women’s organisations across the country.

The Tampon Tax Fund supports women’s charities that are making a significant impact in the lives of women and girls in the UK, including health, wellbeing and education initiatives, and services for vulnerable women. The bids selected represent a range of different initiatives to benefit women across the whole of the UK.

Following a review of the grants already awarded and in order to further focus resources the OCSI/Cabinet Office has carried out a targeted exercise to seek views on how to spend the remaining capital in the Tampon Tax Fund effectively. We will consider the results of this exercise in designing any such fund.

This response is not good enough. Girls are missing out on their education because they cannot afford hygiene products. This is unacceptable, unbelievable. Sign the petition, speak to your local MP, spread the word on social media, demonstrate that our girls deserve better.

Hugo’s Earthquake: Campaigning for homelessness awareness

Hugo’s Earthquake is all about fighting for homelessness awareness and intervention, campaigning to ensure measures are put in place to prevent homelessness, and help those who do find themselves without a home.

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In February, it was announced that local councils were to receive £48 million to expand provision for the homeless in the UK. Hugo’s Earthquake supports this extra injection of money being put into homelessness intervention.

News that £48m has been announced is welcome, if spent in the right way. In reaction, Campaign spokesperson Emily Saunders stated “£48 million isn’t a small amount when it comes to supporting the homeless, but we are really keen to make sure money is put in the right place and supports the most vulnerable in a place they feel comfortable.”

This money has been put aside because of the ever-closer Homelessness Reduction Bill becoming law. This Bill is a Private Members Bill by Bob Blackman MP and our reaction to this potential legislation can be found here.

Over the coming months, we will be closely monitoring where this money is going and openly challenge organisations as to what exactly are they going to do with this extra assistance.

The Campaign has been a driving force in Worcester, helping to uncover failings in service provision or commissioning, and we will strive to continue this scrutiny process, whatever part of the UK.


Homelessness is a feminist issue. Women are incredibly vulnerable out on the streets, at further risk of sexual assault and exploitation. But homelessness does not discriminate, and can affect almost anyone at some point in their life.

Hugo’s Earthquake is currently looking for volunteers. If you want to get involved with this worthwhile campaign, you can contact the Press Office at: press@hugosearthquake.org, or email Hugo directly, hugo@hugosearthquate.org. You can also follow them on Twitter: @EarthquakePress or @HugosEarthquake.

Long-overdue sex and relationships education must be inclusive and funded

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The Women’s Equality Party welcomed the Government’s announcement today on compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE), but cautioned that giving schools flexibility should not provide a loophole for institutions to avoid teaching children about LGBT+ relationships. The party also called for a curriculum that understood and responded to the different experiences of girls and boys and would be taught by specialist providers.

“We are relieved that this Government is finally taking steps to provide our children with the guidance they need,” said Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker. “However, the new arrangements will still allow parents to remove their children from sex education classes. We also need much more clarity on the proviso that faith schools will be allowed to teach ‘in accordance with the tenets of their faith’.”

Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening’s written statement confirmed that all children from the age of four will be taught about safe and healthy relationships, and all secondary school students will be taught about relationships and sex, including issues such as online safety, sexting and consent. This will be compulsory in all schools: those run by local authorities, as well as academies, independents and free schools.

“We want to see clear plans for funding the kind of specialist teaching required in order to make sex and relationships education effective. WE will continue to hold the Government to account on this,” Walker added.

In January, the Women’s Equality Party gathered cross-party support for its call for LGBT+-inclusive sex and relationships education (SRE) after Conservative MPs voted to block an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill which would have brought reform.

“We reiterate our demand for fully inclusive sex and relationships education which covers LGBT+ issues, in order to give our children an inclusive education so that they can make choices as adults that are right for them,” said Walker.

“This announcement is long overdue. It is 17 years since schools guidance for sex education was last updated, during which time the culture in which our young people are discovering sex has radically altered. Endemic rates of sexual harassment in schools, as well as sexualised bullying via mobile phones and the internet, mean that teaching respect and consent is vital, and has to start right at the beginning of school life.”

Editors’ notes

Making sex and relationships mandatory in all UK schools is one of the Women’s Equality Party’s founding policies.

The Women’s Equality Party was established 16 months ago to highlight and dismantle obstacles to gender equality in the UK: a political and economic architecture rigged against women and diversity, an education system riven with unconscious bias and gender stereotyping, a media that reinforces these stereotypes, a society that assigns little value to caregiving and therefore assumes it to be women’s business, that underpays women and invests less in women’s health and permits endemic harassment and violence against women.

The Party currently has 65,000 members and registered supporters. It aims to put equality for women at the top of the national political agenda by being an electoral force that also works with other political parties; in addition to party membership it also offers joint memberships to members of other political parties.

Press enquiries to Catherine Riley, Head of Communications: catherine.riley@womensequality.org.uk

Press at Women’s Equality Party: http://www.womensequality.org.uk/

Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Pardon?

While I was at university, I was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa. Despite the difficult-to-pronounce name, HS is rather common – it’s thought to affect around 1% of the population.

Quite simply, HS is a skin condition that causes cysts to appear. They usually come up in places that are close to hair follicles, such as:

  • around the groin and genitals
  • in the armpits
  • on the buttocks and around the anus (back passage)
  • below the breasts

Pretty, huh? I get random flares fairly often, usually in intimate areas, shall we say, but in January, I had a particularly bad flare. On Christmas Day last year, I had a horrendous Bartholin’s abscess come up. Then, a couple of weeks later, HS cysts appeared in pretty much the same spots. One of them has been bleeding since the first week of January. We’re now at the end of February, and I was reaching the end of my tether.

For those of you who don’t know, these cysts can be horrible, especially if they’re in an intimate area. If left untreated, they can create a large hole in the skin, which is incredibly painful, and prone to infection. One of mine was open for about 10 months. Yup. I was constantly on antibiotics, and had a regime of antiseptic cream and dressing the wound. It eventually healed up, but all of these flares have left lovely scars.

Before I was diagnosed, I got a few cysts on my face. After desperate Googling, I found that they were probably sebaceous cysts, and could be treated with castor oil. Castor oil was my saviour, I swear. As soon as I felt a little bugger come up, I’d smother it with castor oil, put a plaster over it, and leave it (usually over night). Normally by the morning, the bump was either gone, or ready to squeeze like a normal pimple. Amazing.

But back to my most recent flare. This little bastard just would not heal. I went to my GP, I saw a gynaecologist, I went back to my GP. They gave me antibiotic cream, antiseptic wash, told me to use Savlon. My GP said to come back if it isn’t healed by early March, as it might develop into a sinus tract (yay!). As of this week, I’d been constantly bleeding for about 6 weeks, sometimes quite heavily. It was also painful.

Desperate, I turned to a Facebook group for people suffering from HS. I needed to know how I could heal this wound. Several people mentioned Medihoney. I was skeptical, but I’d already spent about £30 on prescriptions, so what was another tenner on something that may or may not work?

It fucking works. I’m not even shitting you. I received the Medihoney on Wednesday, and now, on Friday, the wound is barely leaking. It no longer hurts; it isn’t sore and angry any more. I’ve been applying it a few times a day and covering with a cotton pad, and it is healing. I can’t believe it. Three different drugs from doctors have done fuck all, but a tube of bloody honey is working.

It isn’t completely healed yet, so I can’t call it a miracle cure, but I’m so happy I’m no longer bleeding heavily. I’ve got a feeling that Medihoney will now be my saviour.

Do you have HS? Have you ever used Medihoney before? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

You can read up more on HS here (with pictures too!).

The Bandwagon Does Beauty: COLOURPOP Lippie Stix

I haven’t updated this feature in a while, but I am so in love with this lipstick that I just had to rave about it. I started this feature after deciding to do my own make-up for my wedding, and have been documenting my journey to falling back in love with make-up.

I read about COLOURPOP on BuzzFeed, on some post about life-changing products for people who can’t be bothered to keep reapplying their make-up. I’m always skeptical when it comes to claims like “life-changing”, but I thought I’d give it a go.

I love make-up, but I’m not a big lipstick fan, mostly because it comes off way too easily, and I cannot be bothered to keep reapplying stuff. I want to do my make-up once, and for it to last all day. It’s not like I’m climbing mountains or running marathons or swimming in the sea, so I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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This colour is great. I chose brink (see picture) in matte, and it is subtle, close to the natural colour of my lips (different colour lips will vary!). It’s slightly pink on me, which I really like. It goes on smoothly, and it’s thinner than most lipsticks, meaning it’s designed to make it easier to apply.

I decided to do a couple of little tests on the staying power. The first was on a Saturday, where we had to run some errands in town, and grabbed a coffee from Starbucks to take home. When we got back, I found this lipstick waiting for me. I put it on, & I can say that after a coffee, cigarettes, lunch (& wiping my mouth with a napkin), and a nap, the colour was still visible on my lips. And it hadn’t smudged all over my face. Result!

The next test was, of course, to see how it held up on a work day. I work full-time in an office, so I’m constantly drinking tea and nibbling food. I applied it in the morning, and, to my absolute surprise, I still had a subtle colour at the end of the day. If you want bold lips, you’ll have to reapply, but for just a light colour, it’s perfect. The staying power of this lipstick is fabulous.

10am, after two hours wear


There aren’t many bad sides to this product. You do get some transfer after you apply it, on the rim of your cup for example, and that’s after dabbing my lips with tissue to get rid of the excess. But it only lasts while the product is still fresh on your lips. I guess it almost acts more like a lip stain than a lipstick? But I’m not expert in this matter.

It is quite pricey. It was around £15 on Amazon, but it did come super quickly, and with only one application per day, it should last me quite a while. Pro tip: I always set my make-up with the L’Oreal Infallible fixing spray, and one morning I had the bright idea to spray a tiny bit on my finger and dab it on my lips after I put my lipstick on. I’m sure this helps it last all day, but the product really does stand up on its own. If you’re new to lipstick, this range is an excellent way to dive in.

Sadly, this one is currently unavailable on Amazon UK, but I hope it comes back soon. I’m not sure where else you can buy it from over here (tips welcome!).

Please note that while I do receive products to review, especially books, I actually paid for this item, so my review is in no way biased.

Strike 4 Repeal: March 8th 2017

Join your Irish sisters on March 8th 2017 to fight for women’s reproductive rights.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland, thanks to a clause in the Irish Constitution known as the Eighth Amendment. It deems that life begins at fertilisation, and a foetus is granted the same rights as a woman.

Fuck. That. Noise.

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Credit: Strike 4 Repeal

The Bandwagon is fiercely pro-choice. I am fiercely pro-choice. I strongly believe that the term pro-life should be replaced with “anti-woman”, since many of those who say they are pro-life are actually just against women having full control over their own bodies. They don’t care for the children after they’re born. I’ve had many arguments with people about this subject, and many of them state that a child is better off in our already overwhelmed care systems. True, they might be alive, but not all life is worth living. And I won’t be told that I must continue with a pregnancy I don’t want, putting my body & my mind at risk by carrying a baby to term, just to give it away as soon as I give birth.

I’ve been called selfish. If it’s selfish to choose myself, and not bring yet another unwanted person into an already overcrowded world, then yes, I’m selfish. I’ve been called a killer. A foetus is a mass of cells, it is not a person. It’s a potential person, but it should not have more rights than me, a fully-functioning, contributing adult. Oh, and I’ve been called a Nazi, which isn’t really worth responding to. I’ve been called various disgusting names simply because I believe that women should have the right to choose what happens to their bodies. Shame on me, I guess.

I haven’t had an abortion, but you can bet I would if I had to. I use birth control, but if that failed, I’m glad to have abortion as an option. I believe that every woman should have full access to abortion should they ever need one, and it’s not my place to put any restrictions on that, despite any personal feelings I might have. I only wish everyone else felt the same way. Some “pro-life” groups like to tell women that they’re allowed an abortion if they’re raped, or if the child is a product of incest (but this isn’t the case in Ireland. Abortion is never allowed, in any circumstance). Why these people think they’re in a position to allow anything is beyond me. It’s none of your fucking business. Against abortion? Don’t fucking have one. But don’t restrict other women.

On March 8th, women in Ireland are striking. Women are standing up and saying that this is not okay. The Irish government has been promising a referendum on this clause, but one has not yet materialised. This strike is telling the Irish government that they must repeal the Eighth Amendment. Women currently face up to 14 years in prison for daring to end a pregnancy they do not want. One of the best pro-choice quotes is this, from Frederica Mathewes-Green: “No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.” This perfectly describes the desperation felt by these women. It’s estimated that 12 women travel to Great Britain to have an abortion every single day. I support these women, I welcome them, but they shouldn’t have to travel to another country. They shouldn’t have to spend money they may not have, and risk imprisonment if discovered, for choosing to terminate a pregnancy. A foetus has no right to a woman’s body, unless that woman wants it there.

Of course, restricting access to abortion doesn’t stop abortion from happening; it simply stops safe abortions. And so this stance is literally anti-woman, because anyone who wants to restrict access to & information about safe abortion is happy for women to put themselves in danger, to harm themselves, bankrupt themselves, to die, than to allow them the freedom of choice. It’s disgusting.

Organisers Strike 4 Repeal state:

“Our demand is that the Irish government call a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment by the 8th of March. If not, Ireland will strike.

“The strike will not be an industrial strike in the traditional sense but could include taking an annual leave day off work, refraining from domestic work for the day, wearing black in solidarity or staging a walkout during your lunch break. We also encourage any business owners in a position to close their services at no cost to workers, to do so for all or part of the day as a solidarity action.”

You can support your Irish sisters by sharing posts on social media, & wearing all black on March 8th. You can also strike too, if you wish, if you’re able to. Trump is already introducing legislation to stop safe abortions in the US. The world is going backwards, and we will not go back. I’ll be dressing in black in solidarity with my Irish sisters. Because, in the words of Margaret Sanger, no woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.

Women’s March On London: 21st January 2017

On Saturday 21st January, women from all over the world are marching. The Women’s Equality Party (WEP) will be leading the march on London, encouraging people of all genders and backgrounds to come together and fight misogyny.

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Part of the ‘We The People’ series by artist Shepard Fairey. Provided by Crowdwish.

After Donald Trump was elected to become the next President of the US, women met online and discussed the best way to protest against this decision. Trump is a well-known misogynist, claiming to be “for the people”, but actually only intent on removing hard-won rights such as access to abortion and affordable healthcare. Many people, particularly feminists, believe that Trump’s election only serves to normalise misogyny – especially after this story broke, where Christopher von Keyserling claimed he “didn’t need to be politically correct any more” after pinching his female colleague’s genitals. Many people believe that this is just the beginning of a world where sexual assault is deemed acceptable, and equality becomes a faraway dream.

Although we may not be living under Trump’s thumb, the US is a huge player in the world – not just economically, but socially too. We take many cues from the US when it comes to language, fashion, technology. Smarter people than I can tell you much more about how the US influences other countries, but even I know that there will be ripples from how the US behaves. If they country is run by a bunch of racist misogynists who repeal affordable healthcare and treat their citizens terribly, with arguably the biggest bigot at the helm, we will feel the effects of that.

The marches aren’t explicitly anti-Trump; they’re more about women’s rights as a whole, with the election of Trump acting as the catalyst. Women have been fighting for a long time, and we still haven’t achieved full equality. So, we march. Apparently, there are over 250 marches planned across 5 continents – from Washington DC to London to Edinburgh to Stockholm.

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Link

The Women’s March on London will commence on 21st January 2017 at 12 noon in Grosvenor Square, followed by the WEP Rally in Trafalgar Square between 14:00 & 15:30. For more information on the march, visit the Facebook event here, and here for the route/schedule. The marches are inclusive and all are welcome to join.

WEP co-founder Sandi Toksvig will MC the Trafalgar Square rally, which starts after the march. WEP member, Tanya Moodie will address the crowd as part of a diverse line-up of speakers and entertainers, including WE supporter and comedian Sara Pascoe.

Other speakers include:

  • Lady Phyll
  • Natasha Walter/Women 4 refugee women
  • Yvette Cooper
  • Polly Neate
  • Akeela Ahmed
  • Bianca Jagger
  • Caroline Russell (greens)
  • Eve Best
  • Sajeela Kershaw
  • Isabel Adomakoh Young (50.50)
  • Diana Holland

A full line-up will be announced shortly.

Due to ill health, I probably won’t be marching in London. It saddens me to miss such an historic event, but I’ll be doing all I can from home. If you find it difficult to physically attend such marches, don’t despair, there’s still plenty to do! Raise awareness by posting on your blog or your social media pages, keep track of the news and alert your sisters of any developments they might not be away of on the front line, and just raise your voice to join theirs. The march will be live-streamed on Facebook for those of you who want to watch.

If you are attending the march, there’s plenty of information online to make sure you’re safe. There will be a dedicated team to help those with disabilities, as well as details on the closest public toilets and cafes for rest stops. There will also be plenty of first aiders available. The Facebook event has all relevant information, so do check it and make sure you’re fully prepared. And enjoy! This is an exciting, historic event, & will hopefully change things for the better. The future is female!

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