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MIC and MISU partner to combat period poverty by providing free sanitary products

Professor Gary O'Brien, Roísín Burke, Aoife Gleeson & Professor Lorraine McIlrath

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. Furthermore, they report that 75% of those who have periods have worn period products for longer than the recommended time due to financial or accessibility issues, which could lead to health difficulties. Estimates from the Central Statistics Office suggests those who get periods spend almost €100 annually on tampons and sanitary pads alone.

Speaking of the importance of recognising the issue was President of MISU, Róisín Burke: “Period poverty affects a significant number of third level students, with many students not even realising that they are experiencing it. It is a very real and significant issue that warrants a necessary conversation. 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.”

The free products are now available in female or gender-neutral toilets across both MIC campuses. Welcoming the initiative was Vice-President of Governance and Strategy at MIC, Professor Gary O’Brien: “MIC is delighted to continue its excellent partnership with MISU in identifying the causes and realities of student poverty and addressing these together. This is an issue that has become acute with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and our 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 our student community. I would like to acknowledge and commend the leadership shown by the President and Vice-President of MISU in proposing a collaborative approach to this initiative which the College readily agreed to as a crucial contribution to our work to ensure all students enjoy equal opportunities to participate in the high-quality learning experience for which MIC is known.”

This is the latest in a number of initiatives undertaken by the MIC community in order to develop an ethos of inclusion and respect. Other initiatives include the allocation of gender-neutral toilets, rolling out gender identity, expression and diversity training, and collaborating with other HEIs on guidance and resources for both staff and students.

According to the Director of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism at MIC, Professor Lorraine McIlrath: I would like to congratulate the MIC Students’ Union and MISU President on 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.”