Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (439)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy


439. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Health the progress on the Women’s Caucus period poverty motion passed by Dáil Éireann recently. [53141/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Period poverty is defined as the inability to afford period products and is a significant equality and equity concern. Period products can be either disposable (sanitary towels, tampons and panty liners) or reusable (menstrual cups, cloth menstrual pads and period panties). In Ireland, sanitary towels and tampons are subject to zero percent VAT.

Motions on period poverty, proposed by the cross-party Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, were passed in the Dáil on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019, and in the Seanad on Wednesday March 27th, 2019.  Amongst other things, these called on the Government to provide a range of free, adequate, safe and suitable sanitary products and accompanying information, to be distributed throughout all public buildings.

Following the Oireachtas motion, the matter was passed to the Strategy Committee for the National Strategy for Women and Girls (NSWG) . An NSWG Period Poverty Sub-Committee has been established to progress this further, is chaired by my Department and includes representation from a number of Government Departments, agencies and NGOs, including the National Women's Council of Ireland.   The Sub-Committee has met three times to date; on 6th September, 17th October and 27th November, 2019.

Terms of reference have been agreed; the Sub-Committee’s initial priority is to establish the prevalence of period poverty in Ireland and the population cohorts most at risk.  Other commitments for the sub-committee are to identify possible measures to address period poverty, and to consider how these could be mainstreamed across Government Departments, State agencies and other public bodies.

It is envisaged that the Sub-Committee will present its preliminary findings and conclusions to the full NSWG Strategy Committee in Q1-2, 2020. Following NSWG approval, the report will be submitted to the Minister for Equality, Deputy David Stanton, by the end of Q2, 2020 and will include recommendations regarding methods to address period poverty, in line with the motions passed by the Oireachtas. This will be considered by Government and decisions will be taken in terms of implementation at that point.