Freedom4Girls is a UK-registered charity fighting period poverty.
Our charity’s missions and aims are to support those who menstruate by challenging the stigmas, taboos and gender inequalities associated with menstruation through education, provision of menstrual health management solutions and actively being at the forefront of the wider campaign against period poverty.
We are based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, which is the primary area of our practice.
We also have a number of projects that run in regions of East Africa, predominantly across Kenya and Uganda.
We are passionate about educating all people on the importance of normalising conversations about menstruation, from challenging stigmas and myths associated with periods, to providing education sessions that offer a safe space for healthy conversations about periods.
Equally, we place a focus on the importance of education on the range of different menstrual products that exist as well as promoting the use of re-usable, environmentally friendly products that we both create internally and which are also donated to us by our incredible partners.
Creating a world that provides for menstrual equity and a reduction in socio-economic inequality also places us at the forefront of campaigns that highlight in the existence of period poverty and period positivity.
We envisage a world in which no girl or woman suffers from period poverty or stigma associated with their periods.
No girl should miss school because she is on her period.
No woman should be forced to miss work because she is on her period.
Please help us end worldwide period poverty, together!
The Story So Far...
In late 2016, Tina Leslie founded Freedom4Girls. The concept grew from a project that Tina had been working on in Kenya for around a year, with the help of a charity called Maji Safi projects. The project involved setting up sewing workshops with local women, making washable reusable sanitary pads. These pads were then delivered alongside menstrual and reproductive education, to schools in semi-rural areas in and around coast Mombasa.
On her return to the UK, in March 2017 Tina was approached by a colleague who worked in a Leeds school, asking for help with girls who were missing school as they did not have access to affordable menstrual protection. Shocked by how widespread the problem of period poverty is in both the UK and other countries, Tina went on to contact a number of product providers, supermarkets and the general public raising awareness of the issue. She conducted a number of media interviews, helping to bring the issue into the spotlight.
Following this, Freedom4Girls were then contacted by Amika George, the then Cambridge university student who started the online campaign and petition #freeperiods and from there, as we all know, the campaign grew.
In 2017, Freedom4Girls contributed to the breakthrough investigation and research by Plan International, ‘Break the Barriers.’ Through this survey on period poverty, we were provided with shocking statistics on the impact of period poverty for young women and girls.
From the investigations towards the report, Plan International also defined period poverty as having three levels to it:
1. The cost of menstrual products;
2. A lack of education around periods and general menstrual health;
3. Shame, stigma and taboo associated with menstruation.
Together these create the ‘toxic trio’ of period poverty; a definition that Freedom4Girls both subscribe to and base the reasons behind our philosophy, mission and aims and our everyday practice.
Nowadays, we have expanded our provision of product delivery and education programmes both in Leeds and in the different regions of Uganda and Kenya that we operate with thanks to our on-the-ground partnerships. As of May 2020, we have educated over 10,000 young people, (girls and boys), and supported in the donation of hundreds of thousands of period products, be they disposable or washable, re-usables.
The issue of period poverty has a significant impact on women and girls from all walks of life and Freedom4Girls will continue to work towards promoting menstrual equity at grassroots, local, national and international levels.