Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said the implementation of a national programme to improve access to sanitary products and promote menstrual hygiene, should be explored in Ireland.

In a world first, the Scottish Government recently announced that it is set to make sanitary products available free to all school pupils and students.

Commenting on the initiative, Senator Clifford-Lee said, “Young girls and women in can struggle to pay for monthly sanitary products, this significantly affects their hygiene, health and overall wellbeing.

“In fact, stark figures released by Plan Ireland earlier this summer reveal that almost 50% of teenage girls in Ireland struggle to afford monthly sanitary products.

“It’s not unheard of that young women may have no choice but to go without sanitary products to make ends meet. Indeed, some household’s weekly budget cannot stretch far enough to afford the cost of these products; they are luxuries not certainty’s for too many.

“Given the price of rent, the cost of student fees and general living expenses, college students too are running an exceptionally tight budget. It goes without saying that sadly women living in homelessness have severely limited access to these products.

“Periods are an entirely normal part of life for every woman worldwide. Both the United Nations and leading NGO, Human Rights Watch have repeatedly recognised menstrual hygiene as a human right.

“Irrespective of income, background or circumstance, every single woman should have equal access to sanitary products in a discrete and dignified way. No woman should be left unable to manage their period, whether in school, college, unemployed or in a workplace.

“I believe that a national programme to improve access to sanitary products has a place here in Ireland. I will be raising its importance both with my own Parliamentary Party and in the Oireachtas when it returns in the coming weeks.

“This is a matter of promoting and maintaining public health and an important  conversation that must be had,” the Senator concluded.