Tampon tax: How Laura Coryton started the ‘Stop Taxing Periods’ campaign while still a student

Campaigner says she has learned that 'you can always start a protest, wherever you are in the world'

Alice Hearing
iStudent
Tuesday 23 February 2016 15:28
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Chancellor George Osborne has said the the £15m raised from VAT placed on sanitary products each year will be given to women's charities, including domestic abuse refuges
Chancellor George Osborne has said the the £15m raised from VAT placed on sanitary products each year will be given to women's charities, including domestic abuse refuges

Laura Coryton is the leader of the ‘Stop Taxing Periods’ campaign, a global movement which - aiming to abolish the controversial tampon tax - only touches on a fraction of the wider modern day feminist issues.

Having started the campaign online from the safety of her bedroom, as a student, Laura is out on a mission to prove that anyone can make a difference, and has described the tax as “illogical and sexist” and ridiculous “when crocodile steaks are considered essential enough to escape tax altogether.”

As a recent graduate in international relations from Goldsmith, University of London, Laura began her campaign while still studying and used an online petition as the basis for her campaign.

At, so far, more than 315,000 signatures, ‘Stop Taxing Periods. Period.’ is a campaign with high achievements: it successfully pressured Chancellor George Osborne into debating the tax during his latest Budget announcement, and also gained the support of President Obama. Mr Obama’s support, alone, increased the online signatures by some 24,000 in just 48 hours.

Taboo as it is, Laura told the Independent how pleased she was she got Mr Osborne to say the word “tampon.” As a topic not often talked about in the mainstream media, Laura was able to force the idea out into the open through articles in a wide range of publications. Quite simply put, it seems taboo topics can make for strong and shareable news stories.

Osborne on Tampon Tax

Despite stating the petition was her first point of call, the campaign has been taken to the streets as well as the world wide web. She’s protested up and down the country and even delivered her petition straight to Downing Street. In addition, Laura managed to dramatically lower the price of sanitary products across tens of universities around the UK, and forced Mr Osborne into donating all of the money he collects annually from tampon tax to charity. Having rumbled major political figures, Laura has proven herself wildly passionate and successful.

Despite her extra effort, Laura maintains she is a fan of the online petition, and said: “I think they work well to mobilise people wherever they may be in the world and to centralise a campaign.” She added that the issue has remained for generations and the effect of her online petition is that it has finally caught such wide attention because of the traction it has gained and the sheer numbers behind it.

One of the more striking elements of the campaign is that it was started by an average, everyday student. Some may claim that students these days are apathetic, that they don’t have the passion to fight for issues they care about. However, Laura has blown these opinions out of the water.

In fact, being a student impacted Laura’s campaign positively. Despite using it as a form of procrastination, her student status allowed her to kick-start her cause - from cheap printing, to the achievement of halving the cost of student tampons in the local student shop. Starting off a university-wide campaign led to bigger and better things.

Laura has gained almost role-model status, and it’s not surprising to know she can offer some good advice. Obtaining help from the university and students’ union, and finding lots of time to write for papers and magazines, being a student campaigner is not as hard as it sounds.

She said: “You can always start a protest, wherever you are in the world, or even a petition targeting a new audience.”

If you want to know more about Laura’s work and campaigning, please email her at lauracoryton@hotmail.co.uk to discuss anything from feminism to cuts to student grants

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