Free sanitary products should be provided throughout Belfast City Council premises, Alliance Councillor Sian O’Neill has said.
Councillor O’Neill was speaking as she brought a motion to Council calling for the move. The motion called for support for the On the Ball campaign, which aims to combat ‘period poverty’ by providing free sanitary products in as many public buildings and sporting grounds as possible.
Councillor O’Neill said Belfast City Council should follow the example of other Councils by providing them in City Hall, Council offices and sporting and leisure facilities. The motion was referred to Committee for further discussion.
“Similar motions being brought to other Councils herald a shift in the public conversation about periods and I want to commend those who have already done so,” said Councillor O’Neill.
“The statistics are stark – over a quarter of girls in the UK have reused a sanitary product because they can’t afford a fresh one, while one in seven have had to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues.
“More and more foodbanks are seeing requests for sanitary products alongside everyday essentials. If the choice is between feeding themselves and their families or sanitary hygiene, many women are choosing to put food on the table and risking their health. It doesn’t matter how much someone is forced to pay for a natural occurrence, for those already living in poverty, even a couple of pounds is too expensive.
“I implore all parties to support this motion when it gets to Committee and look at how feasible it would be for someone experiencing period poverty to walk into any of our Council buildings and be reassured there will be products there to alleviate any financial pressure they may face to deal with a natural issue they have no control over.
“I will now contact all sporting grounds, leisure facilities and entertainment venues to ask them to also consider this proposal. Without a functioning Assembly, the onus is on us as Councils to take whatever steps we can to help ensure this is no longer an issue. This is not just about sanitary provision, it’s about dignity for women who cannot afford something they cannot control.”