Limerick College provides free sanitary products to combat period poverty

Róisín Burke and Aoife Gleeson of the Mary Immaculate College Students Union, Dr Lorraine McIlrath and Professor Gary O'Brien at the launch of the combat period poverty initiative.

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) and Mary Immaculate Students’ Union (MISU) have teamed up to provide students with free sanitary products to help address the issue of period poverty.

The initiative follows on from the success of MISU’s Period Poverty Awareness Week in October which aimed to raise awareness of period poverty and remove the stigma around periods.

According to ‘Any Time of the Month’, a student led social enterprise working to achieve period justice in Ireland, one in three students will experience period poverty and 75 per cent have worn period products for longer than the recommended time due to financial or accessibility issues. Estimates from the Central Statistics Office suggests those who get periods spend almost €100 annually on tampons and sanitary pads alone.

MISU President Róisín Burke said that period poverty affects a significant number of third level students, with many students not even realising that they are experiencing it.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to start this conversation, by partnering with MIC to provide period products free of charge on MIC campuses. The availability of these products, which are environmentally friendly, will help alleviate the strain caused by period poverty and ensure equity of access.”

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

The free products are now available in female or gender-neutral toilets across both MIC campuses.

MIC Vice-President of Governance and Strategy Professor Gary O’Brien said student poverty was an issue that has become acute with the onset of the Covid pandemic and MIC’s shared commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion calls for proactive and well-coordinated responses, such as the action to make period products freely available to the student community.

This is the latest in a number of initiatives undertaken by the MIC community to develop an ethos of inclusion and respect. These include the allocation of gender-neutral toilets, rolling out gender identity, as well as expression and diversity training.

MIC Director of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism Professor Lorraine McIlrath congratulated the MIC Students’ Union and MISU President on their pioneering efforts to end period poverty, minimise landfill in mainstreaming period health and bringing equity to the users of seven MIC bathrooms.

“These environmentally friendly products are provided for free to students and staff as a partnership activity with the College.  These efforts are warmly welcomed in our College as we continue to embrace an ethos of inclusion and respect.”