'It's a huge issue, probably one that goes unspoken' - Dublin star hails Lidl's period poverty initiative

Carla Rowe discusses its importance in a sporting context, with work underway to have free products available in ladies football clubs.

“THERE HAS LONG been a stigma around menstruation in the public sphere, particularly when competing in sport.

“I’m delighted to see Lidl tackle this topic head on, raising awareness and supporting women and girls affected by this issue across the country.”

lidl Lidl Ireland announced the ground-breaking initiative this morning.

One of the country’s leading ladies football stars, Carla Rowe, has hailed an “unbelievable” new initiative to combat period poverty — and has spoken about its importance in a sporting context.

Lidl Ireland announced this morning that it would become the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products in stores nationwide; a ground-breaking move which has been warmly welcomed, and generated much conversation.

In partnership with Homeless Period Ireland and The Simon Communities of Ireland, Lidl will offer a dedicated coupon for a free box of sanitary pads or tampons per customer each month through their app, Lidl Plus, starting 19 April.

Quarterly donations of these products will go towards The Simon Communities to ensure people experiencing homelessness, who may not have access to a smartphone, can access essential products.

This comes after a Plan International study on young females in Ireland found that almost 50% of girls aged between 12 and 19 found it difficult to pay for sanitary products.

Well known for its strong partnership with, and sponsorship of, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association [LGFA], Lidl is working with the organisation to provide free period products in LGFA clubs across the country.

This collaboration is commendable, four-in-a-row Dublin All-Ireland winner Rowe says, providing vital and practical help to women in need.

“It’s unbelievable by Lidl to come up with this initiative and to run it,” Rowe told The42 this evening.

“I know they’re the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products nationwide. That’s a big deal. It’s funny that it’s the first time it’s come about, hopefully it will pick up and be quite successful now.

“It’s a huge issue, that’s probably one of those that goes unspoken about. A lot of women struggle through that, and that shouldn’t be the case. They’re ensuring that those most in need, they have the ability to get access to the products they need. That’s what’s important.

“They’re linking up with the LGFA to support girls and women, and they’re also obviously linking up with the Simon Community to support those who mightn’t even have smartphones to access the app. They’re trying to cover all areas possible.”

While the Clann Mhuire forward believes menstruation is still a taboo subject in sport on these shores, she believes vast improvements have been made over the past few years.

She and the Dublin ladies football team use the FitrWoman app, the LGFA having formed a partnership with app developers, Orreco, in 2018, giving players free access.

It’s something the team’s performance nutritionist, Kate McDaid, has focused on over the past few years, encouraging players to track their menstrual cycles to aid their performance and to reduce injury.

“We have looked into a few different things with the team so we’ve been quite lucky in that way,” Rowe notes. “But I do know there’s probably even more we could push with that.

“There’s research being done into women on their menstruation and performance, how it can affect [it] and injury reduction. There’s definitely more that could be looked into, and that would help in a sporting capacity. We kind of need to strip those walls down and start talking about it.

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carla-rowe Rowe on the ball in December's All-Ireland final. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Kate is brilliant at what she does, and she makes sure that she doesn’t leave any stone unturned,” she added. “If you’re not feeling great, and we have training sessions, it’s not an awkward situation for her to come and ask us, ‘Is there anything around your menstruation cycle, where are you at?’

“Everyone just knows that training on the days where you might be menstruating, sometimes they just don’t work — not often, but it’s good to have someone there by your side to be able to know that it does exist for females and to just make sure that we’re being looked after.”

Rowe, who returned to collective training with Mick Bohan’s Dublin side this morning in the wake of Noelle Healy’s retirement news, says she is proud to be a Lidl Brand Ambassador and applauds the work they have done over the past few years, not just in terms of ladies football, but highlighting important issues like these.

“It’s an honour to be an ambassador for a retailer, a company that’s just constantly looking to provide help and see if they can push the boundaries, between Jigsaw during the Covid pandemic and trying to help with mental health.

“And now going out there and trying to help with period poverty, it’s fantastic to be a part of it and one that I’d be very proud to stand behind.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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