Period poverty is an issue for many girls and women in Ireland, we knew this to be true, but we didn’t have exact figures to back it up. Until today.
In a survey of 1,100 Irish girls aged 12-19, Plan International have highlighted just how big an issue this is for us. Half of the girls they spoke to said that they had experienced issues around affordability of pads and tampons, and many said they had to change to a less suitable product because of the cost.
The study also showed that periods are still a taboo subject, with 61% saying they were embarrassed by their period and only 1 in 5 saying they are comfortable speaking about periods with their fathers.
Caoimhe Dowling, 19 years old from Dublin, who took part in the survey said “When I was younger, I felt the need to hide my period from both my family and my friends. I was made to feel shame for this biological fact of life. No person should feel shame for having a period.
“Now, being a student means a lot of saving and scrimping to get by with the little money I get from my job. I am reminded monthly of the large chunk of money that I am forced to spend on the necessities for my period. I’m still not used to looking at the receipt after buying pads and seeing this huge sum that I need to fork over. Pads and tampons are necessities but are still seen as luxury.”
Below are some of the main findings of the study…
- 50% have experienced issues around affordability of sanitary products.
- 39.3% did not know that tampons and sanitary wear were subject to VAT
- 89% thought that tampons and sanitary wear should not be subject to VAT
Information on their period
- 1 in 2 did not find school helpful for providing information on their period
- 43% felt they didn’t know what to do when their period started
- 1 in 12 believe you can’t get pregnant if you have sex on your period
- 1 in 13 believe you can lose your virginity by wearing a tampon
- 61% have missed school because of their period
- 55% felt embarrassed by their period
- 30% were asked not to speak to their male friends, brothers or fathers about their periods
- 81% would not feel comfortable speaking to their fathers about their periods
- 84% would not feel comfortable speaking to their teachers about their periods even though 58% have missed a class 69% have missed PE 88% have felt less able to pay attention
- 1 in 2 use pain relief while on their period or 68%
Periods Around the World
- 20% of girls in rural India leave school after they get their first period.
- In Kenya there have been cases of menstruating school girls being beaten for disobeying instructions during PE lessons because they are afraid of leaking.
- 70% of girls in Malawi miss one to three school days a month due to menstruation, more than they do from malaria
- 48% of girls in Iran, 10% in India and 7% in Afghanistan believe menstruation is a disease
- 51% of girls in Afghanistan and 82% in Malawi were unaware of periods before their first period.
- For many girls in the developing world, accurate education is not readily available at schools or from their families.
- Both girls and boys lack the right information to reduce misconceptions and stigma. Alongside this comes the challenge for girls of managing menstruation in a school environment, which can lead to low attendance or school dropout.
- In 2014 the UN Human Rights Council acknowledged, for the first time, that lack of menstrual health management and stigma associated with menstruation both have a negative impact on gender equality
Plan International Ireland is asking the Irish public to dispel the stigma on periods stating; It’s time to talk. Period.