Minister must go a step further and provide free sanitary products to women – O’Loughlin

Deputy O’Loughlin was commenting in response to Minister Harris’s proposal that VAT be removed on condoms and new sanitary products.

The Minister needs to go a step further and provide free, adequate, safe and suitable sanitary products to women in an effort to tackle period poverty and de-stigmatise menstruation.

The Oireachtas Women’s Caucus, which I am a member of, brought forward the first motion on period poverty in the Oireachtas. This was in recognition of the very real issues which are associated with the cost of menstruation.

This cost affects teenagers, those on lower incomes and homeless people. It’s not unheard of that young women may have no choice but to go without sanitary products to make ends meet, and this significantly affects their hygiene, health and overall wellbeing.

In a world first, last year the Scottish Government announced that it would make sanitary products available for free to all school pupils and students. I believe this is a progressive and important move and I would love to see Ireland follow suit.

While it is welcome that the Minister is attempting to reduce the cost associated with menstruation, he should be going one further and removing the financial barrier altogether.