Activists protest proposed ban on Nepali women travelling abroad

Activists protest proposed ban on Nepali women travelling abroad

WOMEN

Activists protest proposed ban on Nepali women travelling abroad 

view from a plane window
Aoife McDonald

Aoife McDonald

4th May 2021

 

A proposed law in Nepal banning women from travelling abroad without a permission letter from their families and government wards has caused uproar. It contradicts the rights to freedom of movement and asylum under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Nepal is a signatory. It was introduced by the Department of Immigration in February of this year and aims to prevent women being trafficked, while making it easier for governments to contact citizens in trouble overseasAccording to a 2018 UNODC report, 35,000 Nepalese people were victims of human trafficking that year, including 15,000 women and 5,000 girls. 

 

Activists have pointed out that it is not only women who are trafficked, and policymakers should consider both women and men in any proposed legal changes. Hima Bista, executive director at Women Lead Nepal, told protesters that the thinking behind the proposed law is “extremely dangerous and demonstrates how deep-rooted the patriarchal mindset is. Patriarchal attitudes have had a long tradition of restricting the autonomy of women in Nepal. In 1988, during the reign of the monarchy, the Foreign Employment Act was amended, requiring women to obtain permission from a guardian (usually a parent, husband or brother) as well as the Nepali government.  

 

The country later adopted a more progressive stance following the downfall of the monarchy. In 2007, the Foreign Employment Act stated that “No gender discrimination shall be made while sending workers for foreign employment”. The latest development, however, demonstrates the persistence of traditional patriarchal views within the state apparatus. In 2017, the Nepali government issued an order banning Nepali citizens from travelling to the Gulf for jobs as domestic workers.  

 

“Gulf countries employ migrant domestic workers under the “Kafala” system, by which their mobility is controlled by their employer. This means that employers hold the passports of migrant workers and have legal control over their ability to change employment or leave the country.”

Although the Kafala system is problematic, feminist activists criticize the 2017 ban as compounding the issues faced by Nepali migrant women. Again, the ban was to protect citizens from being trafficked. In reality, instead of protecting women from exploitation, the ban discriminates against women as the main cohort seeking domestic work, and even places them in danger. 

 

The Gulf countries remain a favourite destination of Nepali women, as salaries for domestic workers far outstrip those in Nepal. Due to the 2017 legislation, women choose to travel through neighbouring countries, such as India, with which Nepal shares an open border, before travelling on to the Middle East. This leaves women undocumented, and more vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. Activists refute the claim that further restrictions on women’s freedom of movement will prevent the exploitation and abuse of women. The average salary of women in Nepal is only $5,497 per annum, meaning that many will choose to emigrate without documentation. The most recent proposals restricting women consolidates this fear. 

 

The recent proposals have been shrouded in confusion regarding the actual content of the proposed changes to legislation. Teknarayan Paudel, director of the Department of Immigration, insisted in an interview with The Republic, that every female under 40 would have to obtain the letter of permission. The stance of the Department of Immigration, however, is that the requirement would only apply to women travelling alone for the first time to countries in the Middle East and AfricaDespite this contradiction, it appears as though the intention was to impose a blanket ban on all countriesThe limited ban seems to have been a revaluation of the original intention in response to the backlash. The department clarified that the law only applied to “vulnerable” women and has not yet been finalised. 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash

 

 

How can we support the women who make our clothes?

How can we support the women who make our clothes?

WOMEN

How can we support the women who make our clothes?

garment workers
Rachael Kenny

Aoife McNulty 

27th April 2021

 

 

Fast fashion has emerged as the dominant business model in the global apparel industry and has completely changed how this sector operates. The constant need for new clothes and the next ‘big trend’ in fashion has resulted in massive volumes of clothing being produced and sold at prices that appear too good to be true. Unfortunately, these prices are in fact usually too good to be true as someone, somewhere along the supply chain is paying the true cost. So how is it possible for fast fashion brands to sell clothes at very low prices and still ensure a fair wage for garment workers? The answer: It usually isn’t. 

 

Approximately 80% of garment workers worldwide are women who often do not earn a living wage and therefore struggle to cover their basic needs such as food, rent, education and healthcare. Garment workers can be subjected to poor or unsafe working conditions and they do not always receive access to the employment rights and protections that they should be entitled to. The lack of rights for garment workers has been a major issue in the fashion industry for many years, but the Coronavirus crisis has illuminated the dire need for a rapid change in how garment workers are treated. 

 

The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic left many people feeling uncertain and apprehensive about the future. Garment workers were no exception. Many large retailers, including Primark, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and Matalan, cancelled billions of dollars’ worth of orders, including orders already in production and orders that were fully completed. According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the onset of these cancellations presented disastrous scenarios for the garment industry, with one million garment workers in Bangladesh losing their jobs or being laid-off without pay.

 

“The Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC) and Penn State University conducted a survey of almost 300 Bangladeshi garment suppliers in March 2020, which found that an astonishing 97% of garment suppliers had not been given any financial assistance to cover severance costs or the cost of furloughing their workers, by any brand.”

Aruna Kashyap, who is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, told The Guardian at the time, ‘‘The brands are trying to minimise their losses but the impact on the ground in Bangladesh has already been catastrophic and will spell disaster for millions of families.’’ 

 

So, what can we as consumers do to support garment workers and hold corporations accountable for such unethical production practices? Non-profit organisation Remake decided something had to be done to advocate for garment workers who were left jobless and unpaid for work already completed. This ultimately led to the creation of #PayUp social media campaign, which aimed to call out brands who refused to pay for their cancelled orders. Taking social media by storm, the #PayUp campaign’s global petition has garnered over 270,000 signatures, calling on big brands to essentially pay up what they owe. This petition had a massive impact over the past year with various retailers including Nike, H&M, Gap Inc., and Primark agreeing to provide garment workers with the payments they rightfully deserve. This campaign highlights the power of people coming together to stand-up for change. Without the pressure of social media activism, it is likely that many companies would never have agreed to honour their financial commitments to the garment industry. It’s an ongoing process and while, as of March 2021, the #PayUp campaign has unlocked $22 billion dollars globally which impacted 70 million garment workers, there are still many large brands who are yet to pay for cancelled orders.  

 

Paying the garment industry what is owed is a basic responsibility. During the pandemic, garment worker wages have dropped by 21% according to WRC’s Hunger in the Apparel Supply Chain November 2020 report. The growing inequalities are strikingly clear as many brands continue to generate huge profits, while garment workers are increasingly struggling to put meals on the table for their families. Researching information, generating awareness, signing petitions, and encouraging others to take a stand is where we can start to support the women who make our clothes. The only way forward is holding businesses fully accountable for their actions and insisting on fair working conditions and pay for garment workers all around the world. We can’t ignore this clear violation of human rights any longer.  

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Rio Lecatompessy on Unsplash

 

 

The de-stigmatisation of women’s bodies in 2021: are we there yet?

The de-stigmatisation of women’s bodies in 2021: are we there yet?

WOMEN

 The de-stigmatisation of women’s bodies in 2021: are we there yet?

three hands holding each other
Megan Carey

Megan Carey

26th April 2021

 

 

This two-part article series will highlight the strides that have been made and the strides still to be made for all women to feel comfortable, respected and valued in their bodies. This first piece will tackle period poverty, shame and education gaps concerning menstruation. 

 

The fight to de-stigmatise women’s bodies is enduring and it is imperative that we make meaningful progress in 2021. One key area is the stigma attached to women’s physical and sexual health. Plan International is an organisation which has done much to highlight the core issues related to period poverty in Ireland and abroad. Plan’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) has termed three core issues: education, stigmatisation and access, as the ‘Toxic Trio’ of period poverty. Plan International’s ‘We Need To Talk. Period.’ campaign, investigates issues most prevalent in Ireland and the developing countries in which they work to destigmatise periods and lobby for practical change. According to senator Lorraine Cliddord-Lee in her recent address to the Seanad:Period poverty refers to an inadequate access to period products, washing, waste management facilities and education.

 

 

“When highlighting the importance of the conversation around menstruation, it is vital that we include trans men and non-binary people. For too long their voices, concerns and ideas of menstruation have gone unheard, to their detriment.”

A Vogue piece from June 2020 titled, ‘We must include trans men and non-binary people when we talk about periods—here’s why’ highlights the issues for masculine presenting and non-binary people, especially in terms of language and accessibility around menstruation being exclusively feminine. Period products sold and advertised as ‘feminine hygiene products’ often make for an uncomfortable experience for those masculine-presenting people to access period products. The issue of public accessibility is also deeply problematic. Kai Wes, a masculine non-binary activist gave the example of public male bathrooms where period products are generally not available and there may only be one or no private cubicles. Wes said in Vogue “I’ve definitely kept a tampon in way too long and risked toxic shock, people die from that.”   

  

It is crucial that all genders have an early understanding of menstruation, and this is one element of Plan’s strategy to combat the ‘Toxic Trio’. Plan has lobbied for the early menstrual education of both girls and boys, not only the physical but also the emotional, social and practical aspects of periods.” Plan Ireland carried out a survey with 1100 girls aged 12 to 19+, and found that 43% of girls felt they didn’t know what to do when their period started.” Plan Ireland and Homeless Period Ireland are lobbying for more all-encompassing education. It is important to educate young people that there are products other than tampons and pads which may suit their individual needs better, for example, menstrual cups. Period education should also encompass awareness of period absence, and teach that there are conditions related to menstruation, including endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. These are conditions that are common in women and are much easier to live with when those affected have an early understanding of them.  

 

“The education of young boys undoubtedly helps the de-stigmatisation of periods. Boys are far more likely to be a source of support for those who are menstruating when they fully understand the concept.”

Stigma and shame around menstruation is another element of the ‘Toxic Trio’. Menstruation should not be treated as a taboo subject. Genders should not be segregated during sex education classes and menstruation certainly should not be censored or omitted from boys’ education. The cause of so much shame is the mystery and misunderstanding of periods, leading to taunting and disgust of female anatomy. Many girls have missed days of school, stopped playing sports or missed practises due to the stigma and lack of access to period products. In Senator O’Loughlin’s address to the Seanad, she stated that 61% of Irish girls have missed school because of their period.” 

 

The other component the ‘Toxic Trio’ is the cost and access to clean safe period products. Plan International is one NGO lobbying the government for a range of period products to be available in public settings. Period poverty is an ongoing problem in Ireland, with Plan Ireland’s survey showing that 50% of girls experienced issues around affordability of sanitary products.  

 

Over the course of the last two years, Ireland has been in the midst of legislative change to create awareness of this stigma and to make a range of safe period products accessible to all who require them. In 2019 the National Strategy for Women and Girls established a sub committee on period poverty which made a number of recommendations, including that all governmentally funded educational facilities including primary, secondary, and third level have free accessible period products. Just last week Lidl launched their free period product initiative in partnership with Homeless Period Ireland and The Simon Communtities of Ireland. Lidl is set to become the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products in stores nationwide to women and girls aftected my period poverty. 

 

Two bills providing for greater accessibility to period products are currently under scrutiny in the Seanad, a narrower bill introduced by Fianna Fáil and a broader bill introduced by Senator Rebecca Moynihan from the Labour. These new bills recognise that some of the most marginalised and at-risk groups from period poverty need to be financially supported for their health and well-being especially during the ongoing pandemic. These groups include the homeless population, those in domestic abuse situations, one parent families and those in Traveller and Roma communities. In a piece in The Irish Independent, Claire Hunt of Homeless Period Ireland implores No person (…) should have to choose between buying food or period products…women should not have to resort to using cut-up fabric or toilet tissue. Period products should be as freely available as toilet paper. 

 

“This issue of financing is by no means an Irish issue exclusively. In parts of the world, including certain US States, period products are still taxed as luxury, non-essential items.”

It was not so long ago, in 2018 that the EU made the progressive move to abolish the 5% tax rate that had previously been on sanitary products. This was received with alacrity by activists in Europe. This was a big step in creating society-wide awareness of the essential nature of period products, particularly to those who do not menstruate. There are many strides to be made in alliviating the burdens and obstacles experienced by those who menstruate. Legislation needs to be expedited. Some period products other than tampons and pads are still taxed at a higher tax rate, including menstrual cups currently taxed at 13.5 % VAT. There is so much shame and stigma around periods that detrimentally affect the lives of those who menstruate. According to Plan research 61% of girls are too embarrassed to talk about their period”. 

 

There is both a societal and governmental responsibility to change attitudes and end stigma surrounding menstruation. Both need to recognise the essential nature of education and accessibility around periods and period products. Crucially, governments must prioritise hygienehealth and dignity by unburdening those who are struggling with the realities of menstruating.

 

 
 

 

 

 

Featured created using Canva

 

 

Meghan Markle VS the British media

Meghan Markle VS the British media

WOMEN

Meghan Markle VS the British media

Union Jack bunting
Orla Patton

Orla Patton

16th April 2021

From the beginning of her relationship with Harry the Duke of Sussex, actress Meghan Markle has been under scrutiny from the British press. The representation of a biracial woman in the British Monarchy could have been revolutionary for a country that stands on a history of colonialism. It could have been a step forward towards increased inclusion and diversity. Instead, Meghan and Harry’s marriage has simply revealed the racist and discriminatory undertones of the British media and the Monarchy.  

 

The Suits actress came to the British media’s attention in 2016 when she began dating Prince Harry. Immediately, she was compared to her soon to be sister-in-law, Kate Middleton. While Kate was fawned over by the press, Meghan was attacked for how she held her baby bump to her choice of breakfast foodHeld to a different standard than William and Kate, the bullying was becoming unbearable. In late 2016, Prince Harry released a statement condemning the “waves of abuse and harassment” that included “racial undertones” from the press and “outright sexism and racism from social media trolls”. 

 

The bullying continued throughout Meghan’s first pregnancy with her son Archie. Conspiracy theorists believed thDuchess was faking her pregnancy. BBC broadcaster, Danny Baker, received backlash after tweeting a picture of a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee dressed in clothes with the caption: “Royal Baby leaves hospital”. The blatantly racist comment led to his departure from the BBC, and a half-hearted apology, claiming the picture likening the baby to a monkey was just a “stupid gag”This display of bigotry only emphasised the growing understanding that Meghan was coming under racist attacks.  

 

Shortly after the birth of their first child, the Duke and Duchess revealed their untimely departure from their senior roles in the Monarchy. In their recent interview with Oprah, viewers were shocked to find out the reasoning behind their retreat from royal duties. 

 

“The Duchess told Oprah: ‘In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, we have in tandem the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born’.”

Harry made emotional reference to his late mother, Diana, by saying he “didn’t want history to repeat itself”.  

 

Meghan’s experience of discrimination at the hands of the British Monarchy was palpable to the viewers. The xenophobic and racist undertones which define British media were proven to be true. Despite being a mother, an actress and even a duchess, Meghan still experiences racismThe insight into her private life addressed her struggle with mental health. This was quickly invalidated by TV personality, Piers Morgan, whose outspoken critiques of Markle eventually led to him stepping down from his role on the morning talk show Good Morning Britain. The denial of overt instances of racism and its consequences only further normalises its everyday instances. 

 

The racism and sexism that Meghan Markle experienced has highlighted the burden that black women face in all walks of life. Despite this, the interview has provoked waves of support and allyship. Beyoncé shared a picture with Meghan and Harry using the caption “Thank you Meghan for your courage and leadership. We are all strengthened and inspired by you.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

 

#TooIntoYou campaign

#TooIntoYou campaign

 

WOMEN

#TooIntoYou campaign

paper heart breaking
Darius Apetrei

7th April 2021

 

Women’s Aid’s latest campaign, #TooIntoYou, launched in February 2021, is a campaign targeted at young people (aged 18-25) to help them identify unhealthy patterns in relationships and to aid them in reaching out for help. Research conducted by Women’s Aid has shown that: ‘1 in 5 young women, aged 18-25, experience intimate relationship abuse including emotional, physical and sexual abuse.’  

 

Women’s Aid, set up in 1974, is an Irish organization dedicated to raising awareness and aiding women who are victims of domestic violence. They provide a variety of services to women who are experiencing domestic and intimate relationship abuse, including court accompaniment, advice and information services, and housing support services. Another critical part of the work that Women’s Aid is engaged in is raising awareness of domestic violence, through campaigning and advocating on behalf of their clients in policy creation.  

 

There are a number of features of this campaign which make it specifically relevant to young people. The first striking aspect of the campaign is it’s clear and effective design in its leaflets, its social media and its website. Upon typing ‘Too Into You’ into Google, the first result is a dedicated website, laid out in a clear manner, with a number of different tabs depending on the information you are looking to acquire. These tabs include simple infographics, such as the ‘Spot the Danger Signs’ poster, to legal advice, to first-hand accounts of intimate relationship abuse written by young women.  

 

One of the most effective aspects of their website is the feature that allows visitors to complete a quiz designed to determine whether their relationship is healthy or unhealthy. The quiz is compiled of 10 different questions that tackle four key areas of relationship abuse: 

  1. Sexual abuse: ‘Have they ever forced or pressured you to do anything sexual that you didn’t want to do?’ 
  2. Physical abuse: ‘Do they ever hit, kick, or shove you?’  
  3. Online abuse: ‘Do they send you constant messages checking up on you when you’re not with them?’, ‘Do they ever go through your phone or laptop to see who you’ve been talking to?’, ‘Have they ever posted or shared any explicit images or videos of you online?’,  
  4. Coercive control/emotional abuse: ‘Does your partner complain that you don’t spend enough time with them?’, ‘Do they say anything about how you dress?’, ‘Do you feel like you are being watched or monitored by your partner?’, ‘Do you feel afraid to disagree with them in case they get angry?’, ‘Do you feel afraid to break up with them for any reason?’ 

This feature is a quick and effective method to allow site visitors to determine the healthiness of their relationship; ideal for a younger audience. The quiz draws attention to behaviours that may not initially seem like relationship abuse, such as coercive control or online abuse. The quiz also allows for answers that appear ‘less extreme’ – answers that some users may not believe to be intimate relationship abuse such as ‘Sometimes, they get annoyed at me if they don’t know what I’m up to’ as opposed to ‘Yes. They are always messaging me – they have to know what I’m doing and where I am every minute of the day’.  

 

When completing the quiz and choosing only these ‘middle ground’ answers, the same answer pops up as if one was to choose the most ‘extreme’ answers each time ; ‘If it feels wrong, it probably is’. This message is crucial to communicate to young people – that no matter the severity of the behaviours, the behaviours are still wrong in themselves, and that no one should feel even slightly unsafe or worried in a healthy and respectful relationship. 

 

The campaign also highlights that intimate relationship abuse and violence can occur in all types of relationships, even non-cohabiting partners – another aspect of the campaign which makes it especially relevant to young people. Their CEO, Sarah Benson, states: “We need to remember that you do not need to be living with a partner for them to target and abuse you when this can be achieved through digital and online means. The abuse can beam right into your home. This kind of abuse can disproportionately impact young adults. 

 

“Many mainstream depictions of domestic violence depict older couples living together, with the abuse occurring in the home. Most young couples, between the ages of 18-25, do not cohabit, and so abusers in these relationships often come up with different means of controlling their partner.”

Online abuse, by nature, can be all consuming and feel inescapable – in the modern age you are rarely without your phone, meaning that your abuser has access to you at all times. The #TooIntoYou campaign incorporates these important points into their campaign, making it especially relevant to young people. On the ‘Legal Protection’ section of the #TooIntoYou website, the opening sentence explains the changes that have been made to the Domestic Violence act which make a huge impact to young people in abusive relationships; ‘Recent changes to the Domestic Violence Act mean that you can now apply for a Safety Order in any intimate relationship – you do not have to be married or living together.’ 

 

The campaign makes an emphasis on the different mechanisms which abusers use when they do not live with their victims – specifically examining the issue of online coercive control. According to Women’s Aid, 1 in 5 young women have suffered intimate relationship abuse, and out of these women, 50% experienced online abuse. On one of the #TooIntoYou posters, one victim’s account of online abuse reads: ‘What had been several texts a day became an avalanche and it came to the point that I felt sick every time I heard the buzz of the mobile because I knew it was probably him.’. The campaign highlights different signs of both online abuse and general coercive control throughout their website, including under ‘The Ten Key Signs of Intimate Abuse’. This infographic is extremely helpful as the majority of it deals with non-traditional types of relationship abuse – coercive control and online abuse – types of behaviours that younger people may not view as relationship abuse.  

 

The campaign also has an entire section on their website dedicated to keeping yourself safe as a young person online. This section is presented in a very clear format, with the introductory paragraph beginning with the words ‘Online abuse is real abuse, and it’s not ok’. It includes explanations of how to keep accounts and your phone private, how to block abusers on varying social media sites, and procedures for what victims can do if they feel their account has been hacked/spied on.  

 

The #TooIntoYou campaign deals with the recent issue of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA). There has been a worrying rise in IBSA among young people over the last few years. Research conducted by Women’s Aid has shown that; ‘Half of young women abused by a partner experienced online abuse including having intimate images taken and shared without their consent.’ This troubling phenomenon came to light in the most recent ‘nudes leak’ in which a discord server used by up to 500 Irish men was exposed to be sharing over 140,000 intimate photographs of young women and underage girls (according to the Victims Alliance). This horrific discovery led to the creation of new legislation in December 2020, the ‘Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020’, nicknamed ‘Coco’s Law’, which makes the act of sharing a person’s intimate images without their consent a crime. The #TooIntoYou campaign directly tackles this phenomenon. They deal with IBSA in their quiz, with Question 5; ‘Have they ever posted or shared any explicit images of videos of you online?’.  

 

The site also has an entire section dedicated to giving victims a step-to-step guide on what to do if their intimate images or videos have been shared without consent. This includes how to report content, whether it be on a pornographic site or a social media site, and how to report these instances to the Gardaí. This advice goes on step further, also addressing those who receive unsolicited explicit images – such as the sharing in male group chats of intimate images of women.   

 

Overall, this campaign makes an extremely effective attempt at reaching, interacting with, and educating its intended younger audience. It brings awareness to types of abuse that are rampant among young people, such as online abuse, image-based sexual abuse, and coercive control in a clear and effective way.  

 

 If you have been affected by any of the issues spoken about above, do not hesitate to get in touch with Women’s Aid for advice and support.

 

 

Featured photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

 

It’s a revolution, a bleedin’ revolution

It’s a revolution, a bleedin’ revolution

 

WOMEN

It’s a revolution, a bleedin’ revolution

tampons
Ciara Mulgrew

31st March 2021

 

Scotland’s done it. New Zealand’s done it. Will Ireland be next?

 

Period poverty is the inability to access period products due to lack of finances or accessibility, and it is still a major issue in Ireland. People still have to choose between period products and other essentials. They have to wear pads or tampons for longer than recommended. Many people still do not have access to period products in their educational facility or workplace.

 

Senators Rebecca Moynihan and Lorraine Clifford-Lee brought this issue to the Seanad early this year, with the proposal of two separate bills. Clifford-Lee’s bill is a one-line bill on the provision of free period products, whereas Moynihan’s bill is said to be an inclusive and comprehensive period product bill, which will place legal obligation on the state to provide a variety of free period products in schools, universities, and public service buildings. Moynihan’s bill is a model of the Scottish period product bill and it states that the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, will be obligated to partake in a campaign to inform people where they can get these products.

 

Outside of these political initiatives, Anytime of the Month (ATOTM), a student led initiative, is leading the way in the fight against period poverty. These students run workshops for universities, schools, and businesses all around Ireland to inform them about the issue of period poverty, and help them to implement measures to prevent period poverty in their educational facility or workplace. They also sell badges and stickers, which can be displayed to show people you are a ‘friendly stranger’ who can be approached for period products. All profits from these sales go to organisations working directly with people who are most affected by period poverty, such as Doras and Thomond House.

 

STAND News caught up with ATOTM team members Amy, Aine and Rachel to find out more about the need for period workshops and to hear their opinion on the introduction of a period product bill.

 

“Menstruation has become so stigmatized that it is rarely talked about. Due to this fact, period poverty is also unheard of for many people who do not menstruate or have not experienced period poverty.”

 

Menstruation has become so stigmatized that it is rarely talked about. Due to this fact, period poverty is also unheard of for many people who do not menstruate or have not experienced period poverty. Amy emphasised the importance of educating people about period poverty as “so many people either have no idea what period poverty [is] or think that it is not a problem in Ireland, when in reality period poverty is all around us, we just might not see it.”

 

A survey conducted by ATOTM highlighted that 75% of participants admitted they have worn period products longer than the recommended time of 3-4 hours due to a lack of accessibility or funds. Accessibility problems are not only an issue in schools and universities, but also in workplaces. Aine told us that having access to period products in your workplace “can lead to happier and healthier workers, which is ultimately the goal of any business.” Employees would “no longer have to worry about having period products with them and will never find themselves in an uncomfortable situation if they do not have one, which unfortunately happens every day.”

 

This study also found that 35% of the people surveyed were unable to access period products due to a lack of accessibility or funds. The provision of free period products in public spaces would significantly reduce this figure, as it would cut down on lack of accessibility and those who do not have the finances for period products would also be able to access them. Rachel spoke on how excited the team is about the period product bill. She said their “main goal from the very start of [their] initiative has been to alleviate period poverty within Ireland, a bill like this would ensure that this objective could and would be achieved.”

 

From the results of the ATOTM survey, it is clear that period poverty is an issue experienced by many in Ireland. It is an issue we all need to be aware of whether we menstruate or not. Anyone can support this cause through the purchase of a badge or sticker, or through participation in the ATOTM workshop. This workshop is open to all educational facilities and business willing to show their support in the alleviation of period poverty. Through participating in this workshop and displaying the ATOTM logo, schools, universities, and companies can show their staff members and customers that they supply free and easily accessible period products.

 

 

 

Featured photo by Natracare on Unsplash