The Stormont Executive seems determined to add to the pressures and the indignity already experienced by thousands of women and girls every month.
Instead of getting on with placing free period products in schools, colleges, universities and other public places government departments are fighting amongst themselves over who should be responsible for it.More than a quarter of pupiks here have difficulty in getting period products, while about one in 12 said they had missed school because they did not have any. Almost half of 12 to 19-year-olds have struggled to afford period products.
The inability, or the reluctance, to take decisions which benefit people’s quality of life has become a hallmark of the Stormont Executive. The government parties hold on power and re-enforcing their tribal and sectarian camps has always been prioritised over progressive legislation.
The Scottish Executive introduced a free period products scheme almost two years ago. Schools in England have been providing free period products since early 2020. Even Lidl supermarkets are providing free period products – but the NI Executive, despite committing to making products available in all schools is still finding excuses for not implementing the scheme
The costs of tampons, pads and towels can be prohibitive for many women and young girls. Many are unable to afford sanitary products and even more have to regularly borrow from a friend. Others suffer the indignity, and health risks of using improvised sanitary wear. As a result, their education is disrupted and school days are missed.
It is long past time that the stigma surrounding menstruation was dispelled. Long past time that women and girls have to suffer the indignation and stress of period poverty and the effects it has on their lives.
It is long past time for the legislation to be in place. Just do it!
Workers PartyNewry / Armagh