I've always loved Lidl. I love the crumpets for 29p, the cheap yet cheerful, dubious branding of the chocolate and the coffee, I love the European ambience and the 'big on quality, Lidl on price' tag line...and I love the brownies. Someone tell me how the brownies are made, please. Also the bakery in general must be one of the wonders of the commercial world. Today, I'm explicitly expressing my love for this supermarket in light of the very recent news that Lidl Ireland has become the first major retailer IN THE WORLD to offer free sanitary products for women. I mean... ...it's about bloody time, right?! No pun intended. But seriously, being a woman is hard enough without also having to dish out your dollars for great wads of polypropylene. There's something so poignant about the constant disposal of countless bulging pads and tampons each month, which - I guess - kind of ties in quite nicely with the whole shedding-of-blood thing (if you're ready for the part where I start advocating for the Mooncup, don't be. I really tried to do my bit for the planet a couple of years back but - to cut a long story short - ended up crying, horizontal, and minutes away from calling an ambulance. A story for another time...or not.) Periods can be depressing enough without having to even worry about the financial toll it takes on many girls and women. Not only that, but the stigma attached to periods (that has been lingering for way too long)) makes it more difficult for girls and women to talk openly about it with others. 1 in 4 girls and women across the UK said they felt unprepared for the start of their period, and during the pandemic, Plan UK found that 11% of girls aged 14-21 have not been able to afford period products. This is horrible to know, but in 2021 supermarkets across Britain are joining forces to help end 'period poverty', as it's known, and this is the kind of action we love to see. Obviously Lidl's campaign is limited, currently, to Ireland, but there are other movements happening throughout different supermarkets, such as: Morrisons - this store has an initiative called "Ask for Sandy", which allows people to discreetly access sanitary products in selected shops. Boots - Boots is a brand partner of The Hygiene Bank, which supplies sanitary products as well as other more generic toiletries to people in need. At larger Boots stores you can donate these products, which may not typically reach food banks. ASDA, the Co-op and Waitrose - these supermarkets are brand partners of Hey Girls UK, a social enterprise that gives away a box of products for every box sold to customers. You can buy these on their website or through these supporting supermarkets. Students can also access free sanitary products from schools if they are between the ages of 16 and 19. I'm baffled as to why this is limited to such a narrow age bracket, but at least many teens are able to worry less about access to products whilst they are in higher education. Some other really great charities include: - Freedom4Girls According to their website, Freedom4Girls 'not only support in the provision of products that are donated to [them], but also through the creation of washable reusable pads, through the delivery of an education programme that works to empower, challenge and reduce stigmas and through campaigning to put an end to period poverty and its impact on sex-based equality.' - Bloody Good Period Bloody Good Period has been fundraising and supplying vulnerable people with products for a hot sec, and are partnered with 100 organisations around the country. One of my many random ideas growing up was to start a charity or some sort of educational programme for girls to understand more about their periods (I still believe more awareness needs to be raised as so many people have absolutely no clue about what goes on in their bodies.) I'm still determined to get involved in something like this in the future, but as for now, I can - we can all - do a little bit by spreading awareness, lending a helping hand to our sisters in need and continuing to normalise the menstrual cycle. Still can't believing I'm saying that, but it needs to be said.