Are we close?
On Monday, the Scottish government officially rolled out a scheme to allow for all period products to be given for free in a way to combat period poverty. Councils and education facilities will be providing free period products to those who need them under the Period Products Act which was approved back in 2020.
In the last five years, £27 million has been spent on providing access to period products in schools, colleges and universities across Scotland. Individual councils now have a legal obligation to provide sanitary products to anyone who needs them “reasonably easily.”
As Scotland deserves a huge clap for making this move, we have to ask – why has it taken this long for this to happen and will Ireland ever follow?
The Irish government is far from making it this easily accessible to access free period products, but we might not be as far off as you’d think. Major companies have taken on the task themselves, while one department has looked into this and earlier this year made the leap.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris alongside Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins announced in March that there would be a rollout of free period products in the further education and training sector.
This programme will provide a range of free, adequate, safe, and suitable period products in all publicly funded education settings which includes schools and third level education.
The aim is to ensure that no students coming from a disadvantaged background will be affected by period poverty. The initiative includes 9 colleges across 6 ETBs (Education and Training Boards), and while it is at the pilot stage to begin with, it will see free, sustainable period products and dispensers for students. These are located in Longford Westmeath ETB; Tipperary ETB, Donegal ETB; Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB; Dublin Dun Laoghaire ETB; and Waterford Wexford ETB.
Many student unions across the country have also taken the initiative themselves within their own universities, with DCU placing them in all ground floor women’s and gender neutral bathrooms on campus. UCD has done the same in their James Joyce Library and Student Centre bathrooms. Munster Technological University also has done this on all six campuses. Trinity College Dublin also jumped onto the idea and placed dispensers in their bathrooms.
Many workplaces across Ireland also provide this, with many workers returning to the workplace post-Covid to find products in their bathrooms (shout out to the Her bathrooms).
And then there’s Lidl. Lidl Ireland became the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products in stores. Partnering with Homeless Period Ireland and The Simon Communities of Ireland, they are also contributing to ending period poverty. This initiative means you can claim a box of free pads or tampons each month through the Lidl Plus app.
Starting back in April, anyone who is looking to access this only download the app, sign up to receive a free monthly coupon and go from there.
Ireland may not be on the same level as Scotland is when it comes to free period products, and while it’s yet to be passed through Government, many organisations have taken it upon themselves to combat it. The Government itself has a long way to go, but seeing as Scotland has gotten the ball rolling on this, it’s only a matter of time before other nations follow suit.