Call on Irish Government to Introduce Measures to Tackle Period Poverty
A call for Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris, to ‘go a step further’ and introduce measures to tackle period poverty has been made as the Minister has signalled his intention to seek the removal of VAT on condoms and new sanitary products in October’s budget.
Fiona O’Loughlin, spokesperson on Equality, Immigration and Integration, for the opposition party, Fianna Fail, has called on the Minister ‘to provide free, adequate, safe and suitable sanitary products to women in an effort to tackle period poverty and de-stigmatise menstruation’.
In a statement O’Loughlin said, ‘This cost affects teenagers, those on lower incomes and homeless people. It’s not unheard of that young women may have no choice but to go without sanitary products to make ends meet, and this significantly affects their hygiene, health and overall wellbeing’.
A recent survey by Plan International Ireland revealed that more than 50% of Irish teenage girls find it difficult to afford sanitary products while 60% of those surveyed said their schools did not inform them adequately about periods.
In a letter from Minister Harris to Ireland’s Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, released under Freedom of Information, Harris indicates his intention to seek the removal of VAT on condoms in order to ‘improve sexual health and well -being and to reduce negative sexual health outcomes’.
The reference to the removal of VAT on menstrual products refers to new menstrual products, such as menstrual cups. The VAT rate on these new products currently runs at 23% leaving them ranging in price from between €20 and €30.
Ireland is unique in the European Union in that it has a zero rate of value added tax on menstrual products including tampons and sanitary towels. The EU legislation imposing reduced VAT rates on certain goods was introduced after the zero rate was implemented in Ireland.
Research undertaken earlier this year by myvouchercodes shows a comparison of VAT on sanitary products across the EU. Behind Ireland, the lowest rates of 5% and 5.5% are found in the UK and France while Hungary and Norway come in on top with rates of 27% and 25% respectively.
The Irish Government passed a motion on period poverty in March of this year. The motion was proposed by the Irish Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, of which O’Loughlin is a member, and called for more comprehensive menstrual education in schools and the provision of free sanitary products in all public buildings.
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