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Education Committee Wants To Hear Your Views On New Bill That Seeks To Eradicate Period Poverty

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 24 November 2021

Reference: EDUC 03/21/22

The Assembly’s Education Committee has today launched its ‘Call for Views’ on the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill, which aims to ensure sustained public access to free period products for all who require them.

Following calls from the Committee and other relevant stakeholders, the Department of Education announced in December 2020 that it was introducing a three-year pilot scheme to make free period products available in all local schools. This new Bill, introduced as a Private Members’ Bill by Pat Catney MLA, seeks to expand on this by making free provision permanent in schools and across a wider range of public settings.

Speaking after today’s launch of the ‘Call for Views’, the Committee Chairperson, Chris Lyttle MLA said: “In the last five years, conversation and debate around period poverty and period dignity has increased significantly. While England, Scotland and Wales have all introduced legislation to provide free period products, locally, we have been slow to follow suit. It is clear that the time has now come for us to ensure equality and parity by introducing our own legislation here.”   

Mr. Lyttle continued: “A 2018 study by Plan International UK revealed that one in ten adolescents in the UK have missed school due to a lack of access to menstrual products, while one in seven have struggled to afford period care. A local survey of 200 students, conducted by Homeless Period Belfast, who had previously briefed the Committee on its work, discovered that 74% had to leave a lesson, school or miss a day entirely due to lack of access to period products.  It is difficult to contemplate that at least half of our population could be so negatively impacted by period poverty, and to such an extent, as to severely limit their access to education, training and work opportunities.” 

Mr Lyttle concluded: “We are delighted that this Bill has reached Committee Stage and we look forward to hearing from as many people as possible on the detail of the proposals. We firmly believe that this is an opportunity for all those affected by period poverty to help set the future agenda and to ensure that progressive legislation is put in place here to eradicate period poverty once and for all.”

The Committee ‘Call for Views’ and further information on how to respond can be accessed on the Northern Ireland Assembly website via http://nia1.me/4r6 The closing date for responses is Saturday 18 December 2021.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Further information on the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill can be found here:

Committee Membership:

Chris Lyttle MLA (Chairperson)

Pat Sheehan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

Nicola Brogan MLA

Robbie Butler MLA

Diane Dodds MLA

Harry Harvey MLA

Daniel McCrossan MLA

Justin McNulty MLA

Robin Newton MBE MLA

Media enquiries to:
Sinead Murphy
Deputy Communications Officer
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 9052 5938       Mobile: 078 998 64368

Email: sinead.murphy@niassembly.gov.uk

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