Period poverty is a "fixable issue", says Positive Period Ireland
"It's just an issue you can't quantify, particularly in the area of homelessness."
The term period poverty refers to the lack of access to pads, tampons, menstrual cups, pain relief and other products relating to menstruating, and the Irish Government recognises it as a serious issue, both in terms of women's health and gender equality.
Period poverty can cause an abundance of problems for the people it affects - from physical discomfort to missing out on work and school, and the subsequent knock-on effects.
In Ireland, it's an issue that affects more people than you might assume.
"There are the obvious categories; homeless women, women in Direct Provision, but also domestic violence refuges" says Claire Hunt of Positive Period Ireland, an unfunded group that collects donations of period products for distribution throughout Ireland. "It's just an issue that you can't quantify, particularly in the area of homelessness, where people are going from place to place. You can't survey that."
Claire also stresses the importance of taking the topic of period poverty seriously.
"Period poverty affects many people within all of our communities," she says. "I think if you add the label ‘period’ to poverty it becomes a trendy issue, but it isn’t. It’s just a facet of poverty - food poverty, fuel poverty, period poverty. It’s seen as something trendy and something cool to talk about but it isn’t. It’s very, very sad."
A large consignment of period products being donated to a collection for the people of Ukraine this morning. Thanks to Granada FC for contributing to this donation. Huge thanks to @AmeliaFOB and everyone involved in organising this collection #standwithukraine pic.twitter.com/kEusfAm9a4
— Positive Period Ireland (@periodspositive) February 28, 2022
The past few years have seen the issue of period poverty being raised at a government level, but actual progress on the issue has been slow and staggered.
Last year, Senator Rebecca Moynihan, introduced the Period Products (Free Provisions) Bill to the Seanad, which, if enacted, would make period products freely available in schools, educational institutions and public service buildings.
"I hope it will pass soon," says Claire. "It just needs to happen. It's a non-contentious issue. In the grand scheme of things, it's a fixable issue."
Claire runs Positive Period Ireland from her kitchen table, and accepts zero funding for her work.
"The goal is to not exist," she explains. "It's not a charity. It should never be a charity."
She points, once more, to the huge impact the Government can make by simply granting universal access to period products.
"At a grassroots level, fantastic work is being done, and it's hard work maintaining it, but it needn't be," she says. "It's very fixable."