Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney has called for Ireland to follow New Zealand’s new policy to stamp out period poverty as a matter of urgency.
All schools in New Zealand will offer free period products from June, following a successful pilot programme last year.
Senator Seery-Kearney previously raised this issue in Seanad Éireann and wrote to the Minister for Health calling for legislation to be brought forward as a matter of urgency to ensure that there is a targeted alleviation and support for women during menstruation.
Senator Seery-Kearney said: “I very much welcome the recent news from New Zealand, which follows a similar provision in Scotland.
“Plan International Ireland recently published a survey they carried out with 1,100 young girls and women aged between 12 and 19, showed that 61% have missed school on their period and nearly 50 per cent of Irish teenage girls find it difficult to afford sanitary products.
“I ran a campaign recently for support to alleviate period poverty and made a number of deliveries to groups who can distribute feminine hygiene products directly.”
Senator Seery-Kearney continued: “I welcome that the Programme for Government committed to the provision of “a range of free, adequate, safe, and suitable period products in all educational publicly-funded settings (including schools, colleges and HEIs), to ensure that no students are disadvantaged in their education by period poverty.
“However, I believe we need to go a step further, as this does not cater for need outside of school term.
“I have worked for years at a local level to secure funding for the provision and distribution of period products to food banks, women’s groups and have worked with individuals who distribute products to direct provision and women’s refuges.”
Senator Seery-Kearney concluded: “This issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency, the Department of Health must prioritise this legislation.
“A recent report showed that funding is required to address period poverty in a co-ordinated way across Government and the wider public sector.
“This legislation must be fast tracked by government to ensure that the many adverse consequences of period poverty, including exclusion from activities of daily living during menstruation and physical and mental impacts from both exclusion and the use of unsuitable period products, are stamped out.”