A CAUSEWAY Coast and Glens councillor is calling on businesses across the borough to become more breast feeding friendly and also urging Council to help end period poverty.
In her Notice of Motion to be debated at tonight's (Tuesday, January 8) Leisure Committee meeting, Sinn Fein's Kathleen McGurk will ask Causeway Coast and Glens Council to support the 'On the Ball' campaign aimed at providing free sanitary products in sporting grounds and public buildings.
The 33-year-old mum-of-one, who has pledged to raise women's issues since being co-opted onto Council last year, said: “As an initial step, I want Council to looks at the feasibility of introducing free sanitary products at Cloonavin as well as other council offices across the area and all council owned sport and leisure facilities.”
She stressed: “We should strive, as a council area, to proactively help efforts to tackle period poverty and be part of bringing about such positive change. It should be the norm in schools, universities colleges, workplaces, football grounds and concert venues for free access to sanitary product provision.”
In the notice of motion, seconded by her party colleague Cllr Cara McShane, they state: “We ask that council writes to the Education Authority, the Northern Trust and the Western Trust to ask that they consider providing free sanitary items in schools and hospitals.”
Cllr McGurk, who represents Benbradagh, told the Chronicle: “People are struggling and sadly women are facing the stark choice of buying sanitary products or putting food on the table for their children. We all know what choice they will make; that should never happen.”
The 'On the Ball' campaign to get free sanitary products in football grounds across the UK was launched last summer by three female Celtic fans and has already won support from Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Cllr McGurk added: “My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Fiádh was born in Australia which is so much more breast feeding friendly. There are little quiet rooms in shopping centres and women can sit out in malls breast feeding without anyone taking the slightest bit of notice. That's how it should be here.
“When we returned to Ireland Fiádh was 12-weeks-old and I found it so uncomfortable to breast feed in public; unless I could find a quiet corner or cover my daughter's head. We need businesses to provide more facilities and public buildings, including council offices, to become more breast feeding friendly.”
With this in mind, Cllr McGurk has submitted a motion this week calling on Council to “recognise the positive benefits that breastfeeding can have for both the mother and baby” and “ensure that all council facilities are part of the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme.'”