It’s a revolution, a bleedin’ revolution
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.