Sex Ed Matters
1789. Laura Coryton
1790. Julia Coryton
Laura and Julia Coryton, from Devon, are campaigning gender equality twins who co-founded 'Sex Ed Matters' to tackle sex and relationship taboos in UK schools, which followed on from Laura's successful ‘Stop Taxing Periods’ campaign, resulting in the end of VAT charged on period products and millions of pounds in funding from the Government distributed for the women’s charity sector.
Laura first began her activism in 2014, when she launched an online petition to end the ‘tampon tax’, the 5% tax rate that was applied to period products. Gaining over 320,000 signatories, Laura’s campaign brought the issue of period poverty to global attention and highlighted ongoing gender inequalities in society. Her campaign led to the Government committing in 2016 to ending the VAT on period products, with a Tampon Tax Fund created to distribute money raised by the VAT while the UK was still required to charge this under EU law to charities across the UK supporting disadvantaged women and girls. Since then, alongside her sister Julia, Laura has continued to campaign on gender equality issues, visiting hundreds of schools to encourage students to get involved in activism, and working with universities and other charities to distribute free period products and end the stigma around menstruation. Together the sisters have further established their social enterprise, ‘Sex Ed Matters’, working in more than 56 schools across the UK to deliver empowering Relationship and Sex Education workshops, covering a range of issues such as periods, consent, and LGBT+ rights.
The award for Laura and Julia comes as the final round of the Tampon Tax Fund is announced, following the removal of the VAT on period products in January 2021 since the UK’s departure from the EU, with £11.25 million being awarded to 14 projects tackling issues that women and girls face across the UK.
In a personal letter to Laura, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Alongside your sister, Julia, you led a brilliant campaign to end taxation on period products. Your new initiative ‘Sex Ed Matters’ is bringing further equality by educating young people about the importance of healthy relationships and consent.
“As the Government launches its final round of the Tampon Tax Fund, I am delighted to recognise your work which does so much to help women and girls.”
In a persona letter to Julia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Your fantastic initiative ‘Sex Ed Matters’ is bringing important conversations to the classroom and helping young people educate themselves. It is a brilliant way of continuing the work you and Laura started in 2014 to empower women and girls across the UK.”
“It’s so brilliant to get this award and the recognition for our work at Sex Ed Matters. This award has inspired us to keep improving Relationships and Sex Education offered in schools.”
“It’s amazing to receive this award as the Tampon Tax Fund comes to an end. The Fund gave a total of £90.25m to female-focused charities – a huge sum for many vital causes. I hope these charities will continue to be supported as they solve many crucial societal issues and I’m so proud to have been part of the Fund’s introduction.”
Pictured below: Laura leading the Stop Taxing Periods campaign on Whitehall in 2015 (credit: change.org)