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Council launches “period poverty” initiative

Sanitary products will be made available free in the public toilets of Wicklow County Libraries and County buildings under a new initiative to tackle “period poverty.”

Period poverty – loosely defined as not being able to afford to buy adequate supplies of sanitary products – is an ongoing issue and internationally, a number of countries have begun to supply products to school children free-of-charge.

Cllr Lourda Scott raised the issue at a recent Wicklow County Council meeting tabling a notice of motion that said:  “Wicklow County Council notes a survey by Plan International Ireland showing that 50 per cent of Irish teenage girls find it difficult to afford period products and 61 per cent miss school as a result. Wicklow County Council acknowledges the work of organisations such as Homeless Period Ireland in collecting donated sanitary products and distributing to those in need”.

Wicklow County Council responded to the issue by instigating a pilot scheme whereby sanitary products will be made available in the public bathrooms of each library and at County Buildings once they are back open to members of the public. 

Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Kennedy, praised the members of Community Cultural and Social Development section of Wicklow County Council for pursuing the pilot project and wished them every success with their endeavour.

Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Frank Curran, welcomed the initiative and highlighted the importance of the libraries playing a central role in the pilot. 

Cllr Scott said:  “Period products are an everyday item that should be available free-of-charge like toilet paper. Being unable to buy these products every month affects people’s health, dignity and education and has been highlighted even more during Covid. There also still remains a stigma associated with periods and providing products in public buildings will go far to break this down, reminding people that this is a normal part of life.

“ I’m delighted that Wicklow County Council has agreed to take positive action. This signals an important step on the way in restoring support and dignity to those who need it and reducing the shame around menstruation”.

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