Pilot project to tackle period poverty in NI higher education

NI students are set to benefit from a pilot scheme to tackle period poverty. Credit: PA

Students in further education in Northern Ireland will receive free sanitary products during the next academic year as part of a pilot scheme aimed at tackling the issue of period poverty.

One in 10 young women aged between 14 and 21 in the UK cannot afford to buy sanitary products and one in seven struggle to afford them, according to a survey by Plan International UK.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “These figures are very concerning.

“This issue has the potential to seriously impact on students in higher education.

“Preventing attendance at classes, work placements, and even examinations could seriously hamper an individual’s chances of successful completion of their course.”

Mrs Dodds added that the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy had also disproportionately impacted the type of jobs that tend to attract students – creating an even higher risk of period poverty.

“This is further amplified by the fact that students who would have been reliant on products being made available by schools, colleges and universities will have lost this access during the past year due to institutional closures,” she said.

“I am pleased to announce this pilot and know it will benefit many higher education students.”

The pilot project will start from September for students attending Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast, Stranmillis University College, and St Mary’s University College.