End Period Poverty Now!

2nd November 2021

A billboard erected in Greystones, Co. Wicklow which happens to be the Minister for Health’s constituency, illustrates the reality of period poverty for tens of thousands of menstruating people in Ireland – being forced to choose between basic period products or food because they can’t afford both.

It is part of a wider Uplift campaign on ending period poverty including a petition signed by thousands of people calling for free period products in homeless hubs, direct provision centres and schools.

Uplift Communications Worker Niamh O’Connor said: ‘The government itself acknowledged the urgency of this issue in its February 2021 report ‘Period Poverty in Ireland’ which revealed that up to 85,000 people in Ireland are at risk of period poverty. And, the 2020 Programme for Government commitment to provide a range of period products in all public education settings was another empty promise. All we have heard since is a vague mention of funding for ‘measures addressing period poverty’ in Budget 2022 with no concrete action plan.

At present, charities like Homeless Periods Ireland and Students’ Unions are bearing the brunt of the work and there is no consistent access to free period products in public spaces across the country. People who are homeless in particular are being ignored by the government despite being one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

We know that making period products free to all who need them is possible.

Just last year, the Scottish government made it a legal requirement for local authorities to provide free period products to all who need them in public spaces and educational settings. So what is the Irish government waiting for?”

With growing awareness of the impact of single-use plastics, any government scheme will need to ensure access to more environmentally-friendly period products. Recently, Munster Technological University introduced their ‘Code Red’ initiative to provide free sustainable period products to students as supplied by Irish start-up ‘We are Riley’. Therefore, a more sustainable, eco-friendly alternative is indeed possible.