Lidl Ireland becomes "first major retailer in the world" to offer free sanitary products

Lidl Ireland, to alleviate period poverty, will provide free boxes of tampons and sanitary pads through their Lidl Plus app. Starting April 19, users can receive a monthly coupon for free sanitary products. This move makes Lidl the "first major retailer in the world" to offer free sanitary products.

The retailer is also working with the Simon Communities in order to make quarterly donations to people experiencing homelessness or people might otherwise not have access to the app in order to provide free products. They're also working with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association to provide the same services to clubs around the country, as well as providing for their own workforce.

Period poverty is defined as the inability to afford safe, hygienic sanitary products and is internationally recognised as a health and social issue. Research carried out by Plan International in Ireland found almost 50 per cent of girls aged between 12 and 19 found it difficult to pay for sanitary products, while one in 10 of those surveyed said they were were forced to use a "less suitable sanitary product" because of the high monthly cost. The research also found 61 per cent of Irish teenage girls felt too embarrassed to talk about their period.

via The Irish Times

Jennifer Kitson of the Simon Communities, Dublin footballer Carla Rowe, and the founder of the Homeless Period Ireland, Claire Hunt, all commented on how they were delighted about Lidl's initiatives, noting that it was a step closer overcoming the stigma around menstruation, and that with initiatives like the one, there was hope for ending period poverty.

Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan described Lidl's initiative as "hugely impressive" and commended the company for taking the lead in paving a path for period justice

Ms Moynihan introduced legislation in January calling on the Minister for Health to provide period products free of charge in education settings and public buildings nationwide. Separate legislation on the same topic was introduced by Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee following Ms Moynihan's submission.

Not providing women with these sanitary products is "an affront to our dignity as humans," she said.

"We're not expected to carry around toilet paper, why are period products treated differently? Period products must be freely available to all who want them, and any scheme must be inclusive in every respect."

via The Irish Times

Scotland and New Zealand have put similar legislation in place by offering period products to anyone who needs them (Scotland), and by offering period products in public schools starting June of this year (New Zealand).

When asked if Tesco would be moving forward on similar projects, a spokeswoman said the retailer, "supports local good causes in the communities around each of its 151 stores in Ireland through the Tesco Community Fund". She also added that Tesco's community fund has raised more than €5 million in donations for over 20,000 projects, including Homeless Period Ireland.

Aldi, Dunnes Stores, and Supervalu did not respond to requests for comment on whether or not they will be pursuing similar projects.