I am aware of the important work that is being carried out by the recently established Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) with the Ombudsman For Children on the issue of period poverty and also the statement made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General comment No 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence.
A sub-committee on period poverty chaired by the Department of Health was established in 2019 by the National Strategy for Women and Girls (NSWG) Committee, led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. My Department was represented on the sub-committee and contributed to the Discussion Paper on Period Poverty in Ireland, published earlier this year, arising from the work of the sub-committee.
The Programme for Government 2020 makes the following specific commitment under ‘Better Opportunities through Education and Research’ to provide a range of free, adequate, safe, and suitable period products in all educational publicly-funded settings (including schools, colleges and HEIs), to ensure that no students are disadvantaged in their education by period poverty
In February of this year, the Government took the decision to support the Private Members’ Bill, the Free Provision of Period Products Bill, 2021 (Bill 4) which seeks to make period products freely available to all those who need them. The Government has further agreed that the recommendations of the Period Poverty in Ireland Discussion Paper be taken into account in terms of further development of the Bill and that cross-government, interdepartmental, interagency and societal support for the Bill and related implementation measures should be sought, including from voluntary and private sector organisations that provide services funded by the State as well as from public service providers.
The Department of Health is currently establishing an Implementation Group, with representation requested from all Government Departments, to achieve cross sectoral input and to co-ordinate oversight of both the Bill and implementation measures as recommended in the Discussion Paper. My Department has nominated a representative to participate on the Implementation Group and will continue to support the work of the Group in addressing the indignity experienced by those who may need period products every month but cannot afford them.