Period Poverty Week runs from the 23rd to 29th of May and seeks to highlight the issues many people face in accessing menstrual items.
Period poverty is a global issue with menstruators struggling to afford basic menstrual protection across the world, and Ireland is no exception. In 2018 a Plan International survey in Ireland found that 50% of girls aged 12-19 reported occasional experience of period poverty and 10% reported use of “less suitable sanitary products”, for reasons of cost.
'In Ireland, 50% of girls aged 12-19 reported occasional experience of period poverty'
Period Poverty is an issue we at VOICE engage with in our EPA funded programme, No Plastic. Period., which aims to normalise and promote use of reusable menstrual items. As an environmental NGO our focus is on promoting reusables owing to the environmental impacts of disposable menstrual items. However, it’s clear that reusable menstrual items are not only good news from an environmental perspective, but also from the perspective of alleviating period poverty.
A 2019 report by the Catalonian NGO Rezero looked at the environmental and economic impacts of single-use menstrual items across the EU. They compared annual and lifetime costs for disposable menstrual pads and tampons in various EU countries, with the annual and lifetime costs of reusable menstrual items.
They found that use of a menstrual cup instead of disposable tampons or pads can lead to annual savings of up to €119, which could add up to as much as €4,400 in lifetime savings!
As the cost of disposable menstrual items varied significantly from country to country, we plan to replicate the Rezero research as part of the No Plastic. Period. programme later in the year, to gather accurate figures for the potential impact of reusable menstrual items on period poverty here in Ireland.
However, this month No Plastic. Period. has been out at Munster Technical University (MTU) and Kinsale Community School talking to people about their periods and their choices of period product! We have run a workshop, focus group and have launched an online survey of Kinsale Community School pupils.
While survey results are only beginning to come in, the results so far show us that 10% of respondents have struggled to afford menstrual items in the past 12 months. This is clearly an issue and with the current increases in the cost of living putting many people under financial pressure, poverty levels may well rise.
Throughout the No Plastic. Period. programme we will continue to engage with this important topic and look at ways reusables can be used to combat period poverty!
'So far they have distributed 73 reusable menstrual items to women experiencing period poverty due to the war in Ukraine'
VOICE also leads the European task force on reusable menstrual items and period poverty was a focus of discussion in this month's meeting. Our colleagues in Zero Waste Lviv, Ukraine, talked about period poverty as a result of war. They spoke of people leaving their home with few possessions, no longer having a secure income as they had to flee and leave their work, and the subsequent difficulties experienced by women when menstruating.
Many of these women are reliant on humanitarian aid for provision of menstrual items, and will be month after month. In response Zero Waste Lviv have engaged with Ukrainian women and established a reusable menstrual product collection and redistribution pilot. So far they have distributed 73 reusable menstrual items to women experiencing period poverty due to the war in Ukraine.
VOICE is committed to supporting Ukrainian refugees here in Ireland and elsewhere and supporting this pilot programme!
For more details on the No Plastic. Period. programme, please contact Abi on firstname.lastname@example.org
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