Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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94% RSVP readers believe sanitary products should be free for women across Ireland

Periods are an inconvenient reality for women, between the hassle, the mess, the cramps, the hormones; it's safe to say we approach them each month with a bit of a groan.

However, for some of us periods represent a much bigger problem and are an ongoing cause of stress, with half of young Irish women admitting they struggle to afford adequate sanitary protection every month.

Figures from Plan International Ireland show that nearly 50% of young women in Ireland, between, 12-19 years struggle to afford sanitary products every month, with more than 1 in 10 admitting they often have to improvise with toilet roll or something else when they cannot afford to buy pads or tampons.

In Ireland, brand name sanitary products are priced between €2-€6 a pack while a pack of pain relief tablets will typically cost around €4, added to this is the cost of soiled underwear, and that's just your basic needs. When you factor in the added costs on food and other toiletries at that time of the month, a British survey, (conducted by http://www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk), estimated that with the average woman menstruating 450 times, the total cost of a period during a female's lifetime worked out at a whopping 18,450sterling/€20,905.

Scotland became the first country in the world to provide freeb sanitary products to women from low income households in 2017, and in August this year they are also set to become the first national government to make sanitary products available to those at school, college or university.

RSVP believe Ireland should follow suit, and will be rolling out a nationwide campaign to make sanitary products freely available in Ireland and after we surveyed RSVP readers, it's clear women agree that this is something needs to change.

In a poll of nearly 5000 RSVP Live readers, a staggering 94% stated that women in Ireland should be provided with free feminine hygiene products.

Commenting on the survey, one reader Danielle noted: "We should definitely be given something, I spend €70 a month on me and my daughter a month and my youngest is six and she will need products and I just don't know how I will afford products for the three of us."

While another reader Sarah added: "It's not just girls, we should think about those who suffer from fibroids, endometriosis it's very costly. Normal sanitary towels, menstrual cups, reusable products aren't sufficient. It's necessary to use incontinence pads which are very costly but the only way to avoid embarrassment."

And for the homeless women in Ireland, the situation is even worse, as not only do they lack the means to afford adequate sanitary protection, but more often than not they do not have access so basic facilities like regular showers. Seeing first hand, the degradation and demeaning position these women were being forced to endure every month, the Homeless Period Ireland was set up in December 2016.

The Homeless Period Ireland hopes to educate people about period poverty and the "silent strug le" of many women living in Ireland.

Speaking about their work, Claire Hunt explained, "Periods happen every month and unless you are experiencing it, it's not at the forefront of people's minds. The women we donate to in Direct provision are always incredibly grateful as it makes them feel they are not forgotten about."

While in the University of Limerick, the student union have set up a programme to donate sanitary towels for girls in college who can't afford them.

It's more than clear that this is an issue for women around the country, so the question is when is something going to change?

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