Shortages of basic essentials due to panic buying amid the coronavirus pandemic have justified Saffron Walden Labour Party’s International Women’s Day call to tackle period poverty through the distribution of free women’s sanitary products.

Tampons and sanitary pads are among the items in short supply as our supermarket shelves have been emptied as people hoard goods. Key workers who are unable to queue from first thing in the morning or make repeated trips to the local store are most affected by shortages. Households living in poverty cannot bulk buy and as such cannot build a stock of essentials to cushion the impact of supply problems. Meanwhile, food banks have reported shortages in donations of feminine hygiene products.

A 2018 study suggested that one in four women struggled to purchase menstrual hygiene products due to insufficient income and stockpiling sanitary towels will only make it harder for women who already can’t afford them.

At least 2,300 girls in Uttlesford live in poverty, based on statistics from the End Child Poverty Coalition. Teenage girls will be among the worst affected by a lack of sanitary wear. Schools have been providing free period products, but with schools now closed these girls have nowhere to go and no-one to turn to.

It is vital that Uttlesford District Council and Essex County Council act to provide free period products to the community so that local women and girls are not disadvantaged and face the indignities of using unsuitable and unhygienic alternatives. Local authorities have sufficient unallocated reserves for these measures.