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Period poverty is a growing problem. This also leads to very unpleasant situations among UvA students and staff, in which shame and inconvenience have a major impact. That is why, since the start of the academic year, tampons and sanitary towels have been available on all UvA campuses at low cost. Allowing students and staff to buy a pack of 16 products for 15 cents. This is initially a pilot. At the same time, the costs of installing dispensers with (free) products in every toilet on the campus will be examined.

Foto: Anna Svhetz, Pexels

Menstrual equity

The idea for initiating the pilot first arose when the Central Student Council (CSR) pointed out this problem, asking UvA to be a university that promotes menstrual equity. ‘Menstrual products are necessary, just like toilet paper, soap, water and food’, CSR-member Anjali George says. ‘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.’

Period poverty

For now, the UvA-pilot aims at tackling period poverty, offering products for a low price on campus in vending machines that also sell other products like tooth brushes and deodorant. A small amount (currently 15 cents) is needed for machines to be able to hand out a product. The pilot will end in early 2023.

First step

According to director of Facility Services Bert Zwiep, the vending machines are an important first step towards tackling this issue. ‘We want to help students and staff who are experiencing problems purchasing menstrual products’, Zwiep says. However, Zwiep emphasises that the products are intended for the group that cannot afford to buy tampons and sanitary pads at regular price. ‘We would like to ask students and staff to keep that in mind when buying products from the machines.’

CSR purchase

In the meantime, the CSR has purchased 6,300 menstrual products out of their own funds to be made freely available to students. ‘A one-time emergency purchase, if it's up to us,’ says George. 'We hope that UvA will choose to follow suit and offer free products in every toilet, thus taking a step towards a more inclusive campus.'

All toilets

‘We are now examining whether it is possible to install dispensers in several or all toilets on campus, for free or for a low price’, Zwiep Says. It should be clear at the beginning of 2023 whether this is possible and what the costs would be. The Executive Board will then make a decision on how we will continue to offer the products.