News & Media

Almost half of women have problems accessing or affording period products

14 March 2021

Statement by Senator Rebecca Moynihan
Spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage
  • 73% use period products for longer than advised
  • 41% have missed work or school due to period
  • 60% reported increased difficulty in accessing period products due to pandemic

Research carried out by Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan has found that 46% of people have had problems accessing or affording period products. This can have huge long-term social and health consequences, with 41% reporting missing work or school due to their period and an astonishing 73% of respondents reporting using period products for longer than advised.

Senator Moynihan introduced the Period Products (Free Provisions) Bill into the Seanad in January to pave the way for period justice in Ireland. This legislation would replicate many elements of the measures brought in by Senator Moynihan across Dublin City Council in 2018 to ensure that period products would be provided for in toilets controlled by the Council.

If enacted, this Bill would ensure that period products are provided free of charge in education settings and public service buildings throughout the country. With 60% of people reporting that the pandemic has made period products harder to access, the time to act is now.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Periods are not a luxury, and yet even in 2021, we expect people to carry around period producrs at all times. The purpose of my Bill is to destigmatise periods, and to ensure easy access to products.

“In a year, an average extra €61.39 is spent on period products. But the real cost of periods is much higher, with people spending on painkillers, laundry products and contraceptive pills. This is a huge additional financial cost, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society. With 41% of respondents stating that they have missed school or work due to their period, this is a real societal issue that disproportionately affects young women of school going age. Through providing easily accessible products in our schools, we can protect these girls and give them the same chance as their peers.

“The health implications of period injustice are alarming. We know that almost three-quarters (73%) of people have used period products for longer than advised or used an unsuitable alternative. As well as the obvious irritation and discomfort this can cause, it can also lead to life-threatening illnesses like Toxic Shock Syndrome.”

In addition to producing research on the extent of period injustice, Senator Moynihan’s research also investigated the type of products people would use if such a scheme were to be introduced:

“Consultation is a key tenet of my Bill. 74% of respondents said they would use period products provided by this legislation, and it is clear that there is an increased appetite for sustainable options. 54% would like to see reusable period products like MoonCups available, while 49% would like to use more traditional products like tampons. An additional 22% were unsure whether they would be interested in reusable options, suggesting that further information campaigns in this area might increase the number in favour of reusables.

“We know that period injustice is most likely to affect those in the lower-income bracket. People should not be excluded from access to proper period products due to financial barriers. Through opening a national conversation on this topic, I am hopeful that we can eradicate period poverty for future generations.”

ENDS

A survey on period justice was carried out online from January 20th to February 4th and received 3,042 responses. Other key findings include:

  • 94% of respondents are supportive of the Period Products (Free Provisions) Bill (2,844 of 3,015 who answered the question)
  • 96% of respondents believe period products should be free for all who need them (2,892 of 3,026 who answered the question)
  • 95% of respondents believe that there should be a specific legal obligation on all schools, colleges, educational facilities etc. to provide accessible period products for free (2,861 of 3,022 who answered)
  • 91% of respondents believe that there should be a specific legal obligation on all public buildings and institutions to provide accessible period products for free (2,760 of 3,028 who answered)
  • 88% of respondents would support a delivery scheme of period products for those who are unable to leave their homes (2,661 of 3,020 who answered)
  • 74% of respondents would use the period products if they were provided for free and were easily accessible (2,228 of 3,007 who answered)
  • 73% of respondents have used sanitary products for longer than advised or have used an unsuitable alternative (2,212 of 3,010 who answered)
  • 60% of respondents believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has made period products harder to access (1,784 of 2,992 who answered)
  • 59% of respondents believe local authorities should be central to the management of the distribution of free period products (1,789 of 3,010 who answered)
  • 54% of respondents would be interested in reusable period product options (1,607 of 2,964 who answered)
  • 49% would like tampons supplied in such a scheme, 54% would like pads, 20% would like menstrual cups, 24% would like reusable pads and 49% would like all of these options provided
  • 46% of respondents have had problems accessing or affording period products (1,392 of 3,013 who answered)
  • 41% of respondents have missed school or work due to their period (1,238 of 3,011 who answered)
  • An additional 22% were unsure whether they would be interested in reusable options, suggesting that further information campaigns in this area might increase the number in favour of reusables. (661 of 2,964 who answered.)