Senator O’Loughlin welcomes cross-party support for Period Poverty Bill 

Published on: 12 February 2021

Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has welcomed cross-party support for the Free provision of Period Products Bill 2021 which passed Second Stage in the Seanad following a debate.

Senator O’Loughlin said she was “very proud and honoured” to both second the Bill, which was brought forward by her party colleague, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, and also to co-chair the debate.

Senator O’Loughlin commented, “The progressive legislation we are discussed today is welcome and is a major public health measure. I welcome the Government support and anticipate that its provisions could be enacted by next Autumn. This is an issue for all women and young girls of Ireland and of course for trans men. Nobody in Ireland should be struggling to access products they need to manage their periods safely and with dignity.

“The purpose of this bill is that everyone who needs to use period products may obtain them free of charge. 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 period 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.

“In recent years stark figures have revealed that almost 50% of teenage girls in Ireland struggle to afford monthly period products.

“It’s not unheard of that young women may have no choice but to go without period products to make ends meet. Again, research shows that 61% of girls have missed school because of their periods.

“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 women living in homelessness have severely limited access to these products.

“It has been estimated that most women and girls will spend an estimated €8,100 on period products and pain relief over a lifetime and that access to affordable period products should be viewed in a human rights context.”

Senator O’Loughlin, speaking in the Seanad, also paid tribute to the work of others in the fight to redress this issue.

“I pay particular tribute to Claire Hunt, who is pretty much a one-woman show in running the Homeless Period Ireland organisation. She has been doing tremendous work for years. That is really to be commended.”

The Kildare Senator added: “Gloria Steinem once said that the world would be a very different place if men had periods. I think she is absolutely right. If men had periods I do not believe we would need to be having this particular debate at this time. I look forward to the progress of this legislation.”

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