Today was a historic day for women in politics and indeed, a huge step forward for women and education in Ireland.
On Wednesday evening, for the first time in history, a cross-party group of female members of the Dáil united to bring forward a motion on period poverty.
It included a call for the provision of free sanitary products in all public buildings in efforts to end period poverty in Ireland as well as improving education on periods and working to de-stigmatise the subject.
Related: This is why you need to open your eyes to Ireland's period poverty problem
Chair of the Oireachtas Women's Parliamentary Caucus, Deputy TD Catherine Martin expressed her delight on social media a the motion receiving full Dáil support. The issue, she said, was both of "dignity and equality."
"‘We are putting women at the centre of political decision- making in Ireland"
— Catherine Martin TD (@cathmartingreen) March 13, 2019
Period poverty refers to the situation a woman finds herself in when she is so financially strained that she cannot afford basic sanitary products during her menstruation. Such a demoralising thought may sound unbelievable, but the fact is, this is a reality many women can face each month. Homeless women suffer the most but it can affect anyone - your friend, your neighbour, even a family member.
Recent figures from a survey carried out by Plan International show that nearly 50% of teenage girls across Ireland continuously struggle to afford sanitary products month-on-month.
Thanks to @PlanIreland for their work highlighing the issue of #PeriodPoverty. They surveyed of more than 1,100 young girls and women aged between 12 and 19 years. Today we tweeted some of their findings as the #WomensCaucus brought forward their motion to #EndPeriodPoverty pic.twitter.com/uMsW8Wrtkc
— Green Party Ireland (@greenparty_ie) March 13, 2019
The motion comes just after the UK Government announced that schools in England will provide free sanitary products to its students, following Scotland becoming the first country in the world to provide sanitary products to low-income women for free. Schools in Scotland are also now legally obligated to hand them out to all female students.
Related: Schools in England will now provide free sanitary products to students
Ms Martin added that women's healthcare needed to be at the forefront of everyday issues. "If 61% of kids missed school because of a virus instead of their period there would be a national outcry."
While the next step is to turn the motion into a reality, you can still support some of the brilliant groups around the country such as The Homeless Period Ireland who work to ensure women who are homeless have access to the basic sanitary products they need and are entitled to.
Related: This eco-friendly tampon brand is helping to fight period poverty in Ireland
In a statement on social media, the group agreed the motion was "a step in the right direction," but that much work would still need to continue to alleviate the stress and discomfort that is endured while having a period in difficult situations."
"Men also need to be involved; Men and boys need to be educated about periods."
— HomelessPeriod_Ireland (@HomelessPeriodD) March 13, 2019
Main photograph: @CathMartinGreen
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