“Removing the stigma of talking about periods in sport will encourage more women and girls to take part,” vows Minister

Removing the stigma of talking about periods will help encourage more women and girls to participate in sport, Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip Jane Hutt has vowed.

It is hoped improving the availability of period products at sport facilities, as well as encouraging those taking part in sport to learn about the impact of their menstrual cycles on their training, will encourage more women and girls to participate in sport.

Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip Jane Hutt met with players from Cardiff City FC Women’s team to learn about how they are supporting players to play and train around their menstrual cycles.

The Minister met the players at their Ocean Park Arena training facilities, which was created with the intention of being a sports hub to develop women’s and youth football in the centre of Cardiff, on Thursday (May 25).

The club is currently taking part in a study to research into the impact of menstrual cycles on performance, so they can monitor when a player’s peak time for training and playing competitively will be.

The club is also trying to break down barriers of talking about periods, as well as employing more female coaches and giving players freedom to voice their opinions.

Two core aims of the Welsh Government’s Period Proud Wales plan are to tackle period poverty, by improving access to period products, and ensuring period dignity, by removing any sense of stigma or shame associated with periods.

Since 2018 the Welsh Government has invested over £12m to ensure that children and young people and those on low incomes have access to free period products.

Welsh Government has also committed £24m in capital funding over the next three years (2022-25) to Sport Wales to develop facilities across Wales that are inclusive for all, as well as an additional £1.25m in the last financial year (2022-23).

Sport Wales are prioritising applications which address inequality including issues around gender, such as period dignity.

Investing in sporting facilities, both elite and grassroots, is a commitment in our Programme for Government, highlighting the important link between increasing participation and the health and wellbeing of our nation.

Discussions have recently taken place with local authorities to plan how funding can be directed to sports clubs, to ensure young people and those struggling to access period products have a means to do so.

The plan also aims to improve participation of women, girls and those who menstruate in sport. The Welsh Government will work with Sport Wales to assess the impact of periods on those taking part in sport and exercise, so consideration can be taken to improve and maintain participation levels.

Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip Jane Hutt said: “It’s important that having a period isn’t an obstacle to taking part in sport and we do everything we can to improve participation levels for women and girls.

“We are committed to improving the availability of period products, whether that’s in the community at the likes of libraries, community centres and foodbanks, or in more sports orientated facilities like leisure centres and sports clubs.

“We want to ensure that having a period doesn’t mean women and girls can’t participate in sport, as we aim to remove the stigma of talking about periods and improve access to a choice of period products.”

Iain Darbyshire, head of women and girls’ football at Cardiff City FC, said: “We have started taking part in a study to research into the impact of menstrual cycles on performance as we want to support players in every way we can.

“We want to ensure that our players aren’t afraid to talk about their periods, including how they are feeling at various stages of their menstrual cycles, so we can learn about what works for them and what doesn’t.

“The club has invested in facilities specifically designed for women and girls, which we hope will help boost participation levels in future.”

Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said: “Sport has the potential to empower women and girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and improving women’s self-esteem, and we are committed to doing all we can to boost participation levels.

“It has been heartening to see the growth of women and girls’ football in Wales in recent years, but we must continue to ensure they are provided with the same opportunities as boys, so they keep participating throughout their lives.”

The club has also recently recruited female strength and conditioning coaches and is looking to further bolster their coaching setup with more women.

Lowri Roberts Head of Women and Girls’ Football at the Football Association of Wales said: “To grow football in Wales, we know it is so important that we create inclusive and positive environments where women and girls can be their best self. Removing shame and stigma around discussing periods and ensuring better access to period products at sports facilities will go a long way to support this.

“We look forward to seeing how the Welsh Government’s Period Proud Wales Plan, alongside the research conducted in this field can further accelerate the growth of women and girls’ football for it to reach its full potential.”

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