Period poverty during Covid
By Carla Gummerson
Period poverty is a social issue that many individuals are facing. Period poverty is the lack of accessibility to menstrual hygiene products and facilities. Covid19 has again brought this issue to the forefront. According to Plan International’s report in May “Periods in a Pandemic”, those that were interviewed found it difficult to manage their period effectively. They found it hard when everyone was bulk buying products, which then extended to shops to not having deals or special offers on the products over fear of mass buying. This has put extreme pressure on families and individuals who are living on low incomes with little extra spending money each week.
Periods are a monthly natural cycle that that through no fault of their own people must deal with. The cost of this month can run to about 20 euro between pads or tampons, and painkillers as some experience menstrual cramps during their period, which can be extremely painful. UCD toilets have vending machines for period products. They are in some cases €2 for just one small tampon, the other convenient place to buy them is the chemist, which will run you about €5 or €6 for a packet of name brand pads. It is unknown at the time of this writing if there was more variety in the chemist. You can also buy them in the food shops that surround campus again they are name brand and will be costly. This is clearly not accessible product for an individual and it is certainly not affordable either. It is good to know that the Union will have free product available when they reopen.
It is not just about the cost of period products; it is also about access to clean, accessible facilities, where they can change their what every product they are using. Some students live in situations whereby this may not be possible. For instance, if an individual is using a sustainable moon cup, they need access to a bathroom with consistent running water so that they can clean their cups regularly or they become unhygienic for a person to wear. University and schools have been this safe place for people and with those closed right now that facility is not an option for them. There is light at the end of the tunnel though.
The new government plan has included period poverty in their draft which states “ Provide a range of free, adequate, safe and suitable period products in all educational publicly- funded settings ( including schools, colleges and HEI’s) to ensure no students are disadvantaged in their education by period poverty”( p116). This is a huge step towards tackling this issue. We at the Union have hope that this action will come to fruition, we just need now for the government to following through on the promises they have made.
Illustration by Karen Harte