“Menstruation is not a choice” – new committee to tackle period poverty

By Megan Gorman

The government has set up a committee to deal with the issue of period poverty. The new committee, which has been set up by the Health Minister, is chaired by the Department of Health.

Period poverty is not something that is mentioned or talked about so therefore not many people may know it is a thing. Period poverty is an issue where girls and women struggle to afford sanitary products. This is happening everywhere all over the world.

Earlier this year, Health Minister Simon Harris committed to taking action on free sanitary products in all public buildings in Ireland to make girls and women feel comfortable and safe. This is one step towards taking action on the issue.

In a press release Simon Harris spoke of the first step of this journey. “Period poverty is a global challenge but I believe Ireland can be a leader in this regard. Menstruation is not a choice. Women are facing significant costs for looking after their health and I am pleased we are taking steps, with my colleagues in Government, to address this area.” 

The decission for this committee to be set up was a result of a survey that was done last year. The survey included more than 1,100 young girls. The survey stated that half of females aged 12-19 in Ireland have experienced issues paying for sanitary products.

The Oireachtas passed a motion calling on the government to provide free sanitary products in all public buildings in Ireland. By passing this motion it has allowed the Health minister to set up the committee to solve the period poverty problem in Ireland. The motion which was tabled by the Oireachtas women’s caucus, is aiming to have sanitary products stocked for free in schools, universities, hospitals, Direct Provision centres, garda stations and prisons.

Deputy Catherine Martin, who is part of the National Women’s Council, had this to say about the issue on the motion page of the Oireachtas website “The average woman will have 507 periods from age 12 to 51. In Ireland, sanitary products can cost from €2 to €6 per pack, with the average pack containing 10 to 15 pads or tampons, and that a 12 pack of pain relief tablets costs between €6 and €10. Most women and girls will have 13 periods a year, with some using up to 22 tampons and/or towels per cycle leading to an estimated annual cost of €208 for sanitary products and pain relief, costing €8,100 over a lifetime”

As according to the World Health Organization’s constitution the motion has called on the government to provide a wide range of safe and affordable sanitary products in all public buildings and also for menstrual education to be viewed as a human rights context

Menstruation happens all over the planet, in every country every day, yet it is almost taboo to discuss it. The only sanitary product provided for free in most bathrooms across the world is toilet paper. For most of us period poverty is not an issue but it is a matter that needs urgent action and attention.

Leave a Reply