Freedom4Girls: Founder Tina Leslie made MBE for tackling period poverty

A campaigner who has been made an MBE for services to tackling period poverty said she feels like she is “the voice for the people who don’t have a voice”.

Tina Leslie, founder of Freedom4Girls, said the problem of period poverty is being made worse by the cost-of-living crisis.

Ms Leslie, who lives in Leeds, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list which has been released ahead of the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee.

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Her charity, which is passionate about the importance of normalising conversations about menstruation, fights period poverty in the UK, Uganda and Kenya.

Tina Leslie is the founder of Freedom4GirlsTina Leslie is the founder of Freedom4Girls
Tina Leslie is the founder of Freedom4Girls

Speaking about her honour, Ms Leslie said: “For me personally it’s like a great honour to be recognised for all the things that we’ve been fighting for since I founded the charity.

“It continues to be a massive issue, so actually I feel like I’m the voice for the people who don’t have a voice. And that’s why I’m accepting the award because actually it’s not about me, it’s about the people that we represent.

“It’s a great honour.”

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She added: “Getting this award, it’s a great accolade, and it’s also, like I say, for the people who can’t stand up and say that actually there is an issue.”

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Ms Leslie said the honour will make people more aware of the problem, adding that periods are still “a massive stigma and taboo”.

She said: “In 2022 we shouldn’t still be secretive about periods. It’s a natural bodily function that half the population have. So why are we still shying away from the issue?”

Ms Leslie said they have had a “massive” increase in people and organisations asking for period products.

She said people who are struggling to afford products end up using unhealthy alternatives such as toilet paper, socks or tea towels.

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Referring to the amount of people using food banks, she said: “If you can’t afford food, you can’t afford period products. End of.”

Asked if she sees the problem getting worse due to the cost-of-living crisis, Ms Leslie said: “Absolutely. It’s getting worse by the week, I would say. Absolutely getting worse by the week.”

A recent survey by WaterAid suggested that nearly a quarter (24%) of women who menstruate in the UK said they or their family have struggled to afford period products in the last year.

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