“Period poverty’ refers to having a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints”.  As of November 2019 UUSU are Currently running a one year test and providing free sanitary products available in the non-urinal bathroom on all four campus at Ulster University. 6 FE colleges in NI have free period poverty dispensers in their institutions.
The Students’ Movement, with the support of our institutions, should be a leading voice in the challenge of eliminating student period poverty. Menstruation is an involuntary occurrence which makes sanitary products vital. Many women make do with unsuitable materials when they can’t afford menstrual products. Alternative materials include leaves, toilet paper, socks and rags. Some women take their contraceptive pill back-to-back to skip bleeding, or resort to changing their tampons or sanitary pads less frequently. Not changing products when needed may cause urogenital infections or, in more serious cases, toxic shock syndrome. Period Poverty isn’t just an inequality but can result in those who cannot access products to become seriously ill.
It is important that Period Poverty does not go unnoticed and we are determined to tackle the unseen issue of period poverty. The work already carried out by UUSU has been a great first step to ending period poverty.
Following the lead of one devolved government it is now Stormont’s turn to introduce measures that will eradicate period poverty, Northern Ireland is already lagging behind the rest of the UK in combating the issue. Providing sanitary products to address period poverty is essential healthcare, not a luxury, and the provision combats both stigma and inequality surrounding the issue.
We believe that the Northern Ireland Executive should take immediate action to make sanitary products available in bathrooms across higher and further education institutions.