The term period poverty refers to the economic impossibility of being able to ensure adequate hygiene throughout the menstrual period through sanitary devices (tampons, pads or cups) and in suitable places (clean and equipped toilets). This problem, especially in younger menstruators, can lead to a serious obstacle to attending school and thus to a loss in terms of access to education. One might think that this is a situation that concerns low-income countries, but it is not the case at all: according to a Unicef survey, it is estimated that worldwide one in three schools does not have adequate sanitary facilities (the ratio rises to one in two in low-income countries). This means that students and teachers too often find themselves without suitable places where they can hygienically manage their menstruation.
The city of Amsterdam is not an exception. In their investigation "Amsterdam Bleeds," @neighborhoodfeminists and @opinium revealed that nearly 1 in 3 menstruators in Amsterdam are unable to consistently afford period products and are forced to make budget cuts for food, utilities, personal care goods, and school supplies. Over 3 in 5 people that cannot afford or struggle to afford it are used to replacing period products with alternatives like toilet paper. The numbers among youngsters are alarmingly high.
In order to address this, the Central Student Council (CSR) has raised the issue with the Uva, calling for it to become an institution that cares about and promotes menstrual equity. In particular 020's CSR representative Anjali George is acting to bring awareness to the council on the issue. She remarked: “menstrual products are necessary, just like toilet paper, soap, water and food. Neither financial status or gender should play a role in who has access to them. We would like to see products become freely available in dispensers in all UvA-toilets”. One first achievement made by the University is the presence of affordable tampons on all campuses (15 cents for a pack of 16 products).In addition to this, the uva has a Period Product pilot that wants to test period poverty and will go on until the end of this academic year.
Moreover, the CSR itself bought 6,300 menstrual products from Yoni and put them next to offices and bathrooms. They are now available and free for everyone. In these days, says Anjali George, also in CREA have been installed tampons dispenser in the bathroom in the first floor. The dispenser was provided by Periodic.nl. Hopefully it will be possible to have distributors in other areas too.
We hope that our university will continue this path of recognising the right to have menstrual products free and available to anyone who needs them and consider installing free dispensers in all bathrooms.
Article by Alessia Brisa