Do you know what period poverty is?

It’s the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities and waste management.

Did you know that as many as 3 in 10 people in Scotland cannot afford period products?

A 2019 study also reveals that more than a quarter of girls in the UK (aged 10 to 18 years old) avoid social situations once a month because they don’t have sanitary products, with one-fifth of girls choosing not to socialise on their period.

And what of the impact on sport? A quarter of girls admitted to avoiding or skipping sporting activity when menstruating.

As a governing body we won’t shirk away from our responsibilities. Because access to period products is a right not a privilege.

Thanks to funding from sportscotland and in partnership with Hey Girls, a company which tackles period poverty, we aim to make a difference.

As part of Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week (October 24-October 30), our team are on the road providing FREE period products to squash clubs across Scotland.

We’re dropping products off at 22 clubs in the South, West, East, Central, Tayside and Fife regions, finishing off in the Highlands on Friday (October 30), which is Active Girls Day.

In total 12,920 sanitary towels and 10,752 tampons will be dropped off which will support 729 females members, as well as non-members.

Posters are also being delivered, signposting where the products will be available in all clubs.

En route clubs are being encouraged to sign up to our Women and Girls in Squash Charter and you can check out how our team are progressing on their trip on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels now!

It’s hoped the campaign will encourage more females into our sport as we aim to reduce the significant impact of menstruating and period poverty on sports participation.

Scottish Squash Senior Performance Coach , Kylie Lindsay, said:  “This is a great initiative because if clubs are seen as supportive it will make more women and girls feel welcomed into our clubs.

“It can be a real issue for females so having products in place and awareness of the products is fantastic.

“Menstruation is not something that everyone is comfortable talking about and from a coaching point of view it’s about making it okay to discuss.

“It’s a topic that’s come up with the coaches in our team in terms of what the best thing for us is to do because the impact on players and squash is real.

“We need to make sure players are okay coming to us if they are having issues. ‘This is what’s happening at the moment. This impacted me in training etc.’”

Kylie, who competed professionally, representing New Zealand at two Commonwealth Games, continued: “Growing up it’s something you learn how to manage and sometimes it’s just unfortunate it can happen in the middle of a big event.

“It’s different for everyone and for some it’s just fine. But it can impact performance, particularly if your energy levels are affected.

“It can also be harder to control emotions, so as long as you are aware how it affects you, then you’re able to deal with it better.

“Some people may need to train less. You eventually work out what’s best for you – what you need to do to get through that week whilst still getting plenty out of training or matches.”

Kylie is struck by the statistics regarding the impact of period poverty and menstruation for kids and sports participation.

Indeed statistics reveal that more than 33% of girls are not told about their period by parents and it’s a subject girls often don’t bring up at school because it can be embarrassing.

Which is why Kylie reiterates her belief that increased awareness and communication is key to helping break down taboos.

“Clearly when younger you might not be aware of how it can affect you,” she says.

“So when working with the Scottish Squash Girls Academy, being mindful of that is important and hopefully we have an environment that they do feel comfortable coming to any of us, not just me as a female, to speak about it.”

She added: “Last year we had professional players Katriona Allen and Georgia Adderley do a Q&A session with some of the Academy girls.

“They were actually asked about the subject – its affects and things like that.

“For me it was great the girls were comfortable enough to ask and both Georgia and Katriona were comfortable giving an answer.

“But we need to continue to make strides in breaking the taboo and raising awareness. This week’s initiative will really help with that.”

Scottish Squash is grateful to sportscotland for helping fund this initiative. More details on the sportscotland funding can be found here.

Read all about the great work our partner Hey Girls is doing across the UK, here.

If your club is interested in signing up to the Women and Girls in Squash Charter then please get in touch with Cara Shearer, Club Development Officer (Women & Girls) via email cara.shearer@scottishsquash.org. Full details on the Charter can be found here.

2020 Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week, led by Active Scotland, runs from October 24- October 30, with a programme of activity to encourage more women into sport and physical activity, raise awareness of those regularly taking part at all levels, and address the barriers that lead to lower activity rates among women. 

Active Girls Day (Friday, October 30) is an annual initiative which celebrates the amazing work going into girls’ sport, the progress around girls’ participation, and the incredible role models making it happen. For more information click here.