<p>Campaigners called for ministers to make the scheme mandatory - ensuring schools are forced to sign up - as they warned the measure was more vital than ever due to period poverty surging in the wake of the pandemic</p>

Millions of girls and young women who have been offered recreational products by the government are still not receiving them because less than half of schools and colleges have joined the program.

Activists urged ministers to make the program mandatory to ensure schools are forced to enroll, as they warned that it made the program more important than ever Time poverty in the wake of the pandemic.

The government announced in spring 2019 that girls in elementary and secondary schools would receive free toiletries from early 2020.

However, data released Thursday shows that 60 percent of elementary schools have not yet signed up for the program and 24 of secondary schools have not yet signed up for the program. Only 48 percent – £ 2,791,000 – of the money the government allocated to the program has been spent.

Gemma Abbott, who campaigned for the implementation of the program, said The independent one Millions of young women who the government promised to receive free items are still not getting tampons or pads.

She added: “It has never been more important for schools to generally tackle student poverty as we know the pandemic has exacerbated the problem for many.

“We are facing the biggest recession on record. We know families are under great financial pressure. And period poverty is just one facet of financial poverty. When you can't afford to eat or have trouble heating your home, contemporary products are inevitably a secondary concern.

“A disappointing amount of money was spent compared to the funds allocated, which the government says is likely because schools were closed during the pandemic. However, this underscores the need for schools to continue to support their children with access to products from when schools are closed. Periods don't stop because you're not in class. "

Abbott, director of the Free Periods campaign and coordinator at the Red Box Project, a charity that offers menstrual products to students, urged school staff to ensure that students can continue to securely and gracefully access the period products they need until they are back in Classrooms are 'while schools remain closed in the third national lockdown.

She noted that Michelle Donelan, then minister for children and families, previously said the government might make the system mandatory if school enrollment was not "high enough".

"With the adoption rate still below 50 percent, we certainly can't wait any longer for the government to keep that promise," Abbott asked.

Research by the charity Plan International found that three in ten girls in the UK had difficulty buying or accessing products during the reporting period Coronavirus Crisis – more than half of them have to resort to toilet paper instead of tampons or sanitary towels. One in five also said their periods were more difficult to manage because they didn't have enough toilet paper.

The government urged all schools and colleges to join the free products system, which gives schools the opportunity to order environmentally friendly or reusable products. She stressed that it has been expanded and will continue at least later this year.

Ms. Lesley Grover, assistant principal at Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, said the program has helped people speak “more openly” about what is still a taboo subject.

She added, “I think the main benefit was making sure our disadvantaged students have access to free products. This program is a big step towards eradicating poverty in time. "

Period poverty is a widespread problem in the UK. Past statistics show that 49 percent of girls missed a school day due to periods, and one in ten women ages 14-21 cannot afford period products.

Vicky Ford, the current Minister for Children and Families, said: “No student should ever miss school because of their periods. I'm glad that more than three-quarters of secondary schools and colleges have accessed free products, but I want everyone to know that this support is available.

"If you are a school or college director, I encourage you to contact us and order these products for your students so that together we can help end the period inequality for good."

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