Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Education and Skills
The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government contains a commitment to “provide a range of free, adequate, safe, and suitable period products in all educational publicly-funded settings (including schools, colleges and HEIs), to ensure that no students are disadvantaged in their education by period poverty.”
Free period products are currently available in a number of higher education institutions. Last year, a pilot was rolled out to nine further education and training colleges across six Education and Training Boards (ETBs). The pilot delivered free, sustainable period products and dispensers for students in participating ETBs. My officials are currently reviewing the outcomes from this pilot which in turn will inform future funding decisions.
The Department of Health has established a Period Poverty Implementation Group, with representation from most government departments, including my Department. The key objective of the Implementation Group is to achieve cross sectoral input and to co-ordinate oversight of both the Free Provision of Period Products Bill 2021 and implementation measures recommended in the Discussion Paper jointly published in January 2021 by Ministers O’Gorman and Donnelly.
My Department continues to work with the Department of Health on this matter, including working collaboratively on the development of a drawdown contract for the provision of period products in education establishments and other public institutions. It is anticipated that this new drawdown contract will be in place before the summer.