Two cities in Belgium will install machines with free menstrual products, such as sanitary pads and tampons, in secondary schools on their territory to combat so-called "period poverty."
The pilot project is meant for young people who menstruate but do not (always) have enough money for the necessary products, which is the case for about one in eight girls and women between the ages of 12 and 25, according to recent research by aid organisation Caritas.
This is why the East-Flemish city of Ghent, with federal support, is starting the project in four secondary schools, according to its alderman for Education Elke Decruynaere.
"We want to put machines with menstrual products in a discreet place in a number of schools," she said on Flemish radio on Monday, adding that the pupils who need it will get a code for them. "Not the whole playground has to see who uses them."
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"With this pilot project, we also want to do something for these girls in the long term," Decruynaere said. "Because if you cannot buy sanitary towels or tampons, there is often a much wider problem."
"For a small number of girls, buying those resources is so difficult that they do not come to school when they have their period," she said.
The Flemish Brabant city of Aarschot, too, is placing machines with free sanitary towels in the girls' toilets in all its secondary schools, and will also place them in all municipal buildings and public toilets.
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"Access to menstrual products is a right for every woman," said mayor Gwendolyn Rutten, who added that the campaign was launched on Monday, on the occasion of International Women's Day.
"We choose sanitary towels because research shows that this is still the most popular menstrual product among girls," said Rutten. "We are purchasing eight machines and providing a starter pack of 200 boxes of sanitary towels for each school. Each box contains two sanitary pads."
The Brussels Times