Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan has spoken in support of a Bill to provide period products free of charge and highlighted the need to view period poverty as part of systemic approaches to ending poverty.
She called on the Government to recognise the wider issue of poverty and how it disproportionately impacts on women and girls.
Speaking in the Seanad yesterday, Senator Boylan said:
“The issue of period poverty is multifaceted because it is part and parcel of the broader issue of poverty in society. The condition of not having enough money to live your life. Poverty cannot be compartmentalised if you are living in it, then it affects every part of your life including how you feel about yourself.
“I have been a volunteer driver with Homeless Period Ireland for a number of years. The places that period products are delivered to are not stand alone facilities. They are not just set up to distribute period products. They are food banks, they are domestic violence refuges, direct provision centres, homeless charities, addiction services.
“The Department of Health Period Poverty report flagged that while we don’t have concrete data on the scale of period poverty, we do know from poverty data and those in receipt of social welfare allowances that there are probably between 53,000 and 85,000 people at risk of period poverty.
“So while today’s bill is indeed welcome, recognising the issue of poverty and how it disproportionately impacts on women and girls is a critical part of the solution.
“An ESRI report showed how between 2008-2018, budgetary policies including changes in the tax and benefit system hit lone parents harder and left women with greater income reductions than men.
“The Department of Health Period Poverty Report also noted that there was a significant incidence of period poverty amongst those experiencing homelessness and/or addiction; those living in abusive relationships and certain minority ethnic communities.
“There are now over 2000 women in Ireland who are rough sleeping and that does not include the women who are in TUSLA facilities, religious shelters or who have a right to remain in the country but who are still in Direct provision services. That brings the figure closer to 3,000.
“In fact Direct Provision Services have been in existence since 1999 but it was only in 2019 that the Government saw fit to provide period products to those living there. Even then because the Direct Provision model is a for profit model, those running the centres saw fit to source the cheapest product around so that they could literally profit on the back of women bleeding.
“For the women living in abusive relationships, there is a lack of refuge spaces and in 9 counties there is not a single space because they have no domestic violence refuge.
“So with all the gusto that has been shown regarding period poverty, I would hope to see the same enthusiasm in addressing the systemic issues.”