When you’re a girl, periods become just another part of life. Almost like breathing. They come, you buy sanitary products, you deal with it for the 5 days or so, and then it’s over. Repeated 12 more times in the year. An estimated 450 times in a lifetime.
For some girls and women, a part of that third sentence is a BIG deal. Buying sanitary products is easy for most of us. For others, it’s just not a possibility.
Plan Ireland published a survey titled We Need to Talk. Period. This survey revealed that 50% of Irish girls have experienced problems around affordability of sanitary products. With 61% of girls admitting to missing school because of their period. Are you shocked? Because we were.
Sanitary products cost an average of €4.50, and one box does not contain enough tampons or pads to last the average period length. So you have to buy at least 2 packs. We’re already at €9.00. As pointed out by the Irish Times article, pain relief will also more than likely be needed at a cost of around €4.20. That’s a cost of about €13.20 per month. So every year, your period costs about €158.40. *jaw drops.*
In Ireland, sanitary products are zero-rate VAT. Other European countries charge women up to the standard rate of VAT (27%). “Luxury” items like jewellery, beer and wine are charged VAT at this rate. I don’t know about you but the last time I checked, there was nothing luxurious about having your period…
The unaffordability of sanitary products is labelled ‘period poverty.’ Period poverty effects women and girls who struggle to afford, or have to go without sanitary products during their period. 45% of women in Scotland have had to manage their period by using makeshift sanitary products out of socks, newspaper, and toilet paper. This statistic is more than likely true of most EU countries. This is a mark of period poverty. This has to stop.
What Is Being Done?
Charities and initiatives have been set up by women and girls to help break the stigma surrounding periods and end period poverty worldwide. In the UK Molly and Nell started Preventing Period Poverty inspired by an A Level class on pressure groups. Molly and the Preventing Period Poverty team were outraged by the 5% luxury item tax remarking, “To give some perspective, Viagra is not taxed since it is ‘a necessity.'” One way for the boys and another for the girls it would seem…
In Ireland, Homeless Period Ireland helps tackle period poverty in Ireland. They say the purpose of HPI “is to donate feminine hygiene products (pads, tampons, liners, wipes) to those who otherwise would go without. The donations are brought by volunteer drivers to Homeless Outreach Centres, Direct Provision Centres and Women’s Refuges. The HPI is an initiative, not a charity and is 100% reliant on volunteers for distribution and collection of sanitary products.”
On March 13th, an all party motion calling on the Government to provide free sanitary products to women won support in the Dáil. The movement calls for the provision of free sanitary products to be made available in public buildings, schools and universities included! The motion also called for Ireland to work with EU member states to abolish the VAT rates faced by women. So, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
What Can I Do?
If you are in a position to do so, Homeless Period Ireland is always in need of donations of tampons and pads and they have drop off centres around Ireland including: Tropical Popical, Waxperts, UCD, UL, IADT, Rebel Reads Cork, Bella Baby. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org and see about setting your school up as a drop-off point.
Until the government provide free sanitary products, ask your school principal if it would be possible to provide free sanitary products to students in your school by holding a fundraiser to raise money for supplies. People could donate their time, money and/or sanitary products.
55% of girls in Ireland feel embarrassed by their period. The social stigma surrounding periods has to end. You can help to end the shame felt by girls and women by normalising periods and talking about them with your friends and family. More than half of the population get a period. So why shouldn’t we talk about it?
Homeless Period Ireland call for education on the expense of periods, and the basic hygiene needs of women saying ““Periods happen every month and unless you are experiencing it, it’s not at the forefront of people’s minds”.
We at Missy.ie are shocked and angered by the figures surrounding period expenses. The statistics of women and girls facing period poverty in Ireland are heartbreaking and it needs to change now.
Let us know what you think in the comments below or contact us here.