Since the end of February, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has been providing free period products to students who cannot afford them. Such an initiative could also be a way to start a discussion about gender inequality. So Radboud University (RU) should also release free menstrual products.
Period poverty seems to be something that does not happen in the prosperous Netherlands. However, studies by Plan International and the feminist platform De Bovengrondse show that nine percent of Dutch girls and women sometimes do not have the money to buy sanitary towels or tampons. Combined with the taboo that persists at intervals, this leads to an uncomfortable period full of shame. “We know from previous research that girls and women sometimes stay home without the right products and miss out on education as a result.” Janet Heldens says, diversity officer to RU.
With the debate on the unequal costs shared between women and men in the UK, the debate has also begun in our country. “As menstruating people, we have incurred additional costs compared to men from CIS countries for a long time, and this should be supported,” agrees Garjan Sterk, coordinator of the Gender and Diversity Studies Network at RU University. Making menstrual products freely available can also serve a higher purpose. “That could start a conversation about gender inequality and its structural approach,” Stirk says. RU has set itself the mission of providing a safe environment for its students in which everyone has the same opportunities. In an effort to achieve this, she can start making menstrual products freely available.
In order to promote equality between women and men within the Radboud community, they must first be made financially equal. Menstruating women structurally lose more money than those who don’t. According to research by De Bovengrondse, the average menstrual period costs 7.90 euros per month, which roughly means the accumulation of monthly costs for women compared to men. To be clear: That’s the more than six whole loaves of bread or thirteen packages of spaghetti per month that women have to buy more of. “It is actually strange that structurally people who menstruate lose more money for something that happens to them. Something has to be done about it,’ says Sterk. You can already see something like this happening in France. Some health insurance companies out there reimburse menstrual products to equalize costs and combat menstrual poverty. The Scottish government pays for menstrual products in all public spaces for the same reason. As the Dutch government and insurance companies continue to fail, universities can already fulfill this role for their students. After all, this group is largely made up of people who are not well off and therefore more vulnerable to inequality. This is exactly what Russia thinks it is opposed to.
Additionally, placing menstrual products in women’s and men’s restrooms will also help transgender men with their menstrual period. It is important here that products can not be found in public places, but in booths. “If they’re in a public place, everyone will see that you’re taking something,” Stirk says. It forces trans men to either go out or not use the service. this is not fair.’ The same is true for women who take advantage of such a service.
Not only can menstrual poverty be combated in this way, but the broad conversation about gender inequality can also be started in this way. However, for the sake of efficiency, there is often no room for that in the current situation. Facilitating such a debate is very costly and yields little. Without the adjustments that would result from such a debate, those exposed to inequality and vulnerability would not be able or less able to participate. Heldens thinks this is a bad thing: “Efficiency is not fundamentally wrong, but it affects the vulnerable. We can help these people by providing them with basic services. This is what we should do. In addition, this goes against one of the RU’s missions, which is to provide ” A climate in which the talents and qualities of each flourish.” So the small group likely to benefit from free towels or tampons should not be an obstacle to university.
Ibuprofen against paternal system spasms
While free period products can help balance out low-income students, you may be wondering if this is paying off at scale. “It’s a nice gesture, but it’s also battling just one symptom of a huge structural problem,” says Stirk. Heldens agrees: “It’s good to start this discussion, but it doesn’t solve the problem.” For a structural battle against gender inequality, more PMS products are needed, but these products will cost a lot of money. As a result, there is less money left to combat gender inequality and any form of inequality: “For example, teachers must also be well supported in decolonization curricula, and people who suffer from racism must be given a good confidant,” says Stirk. “The costs of that are now not being borne, while these kinds of issues can be structurally addressed with something more.”
However, this financial consideration should not be present in providing a secure environment, which the RU itself claims to represent. Menstruation and poor menstruation are taboo and shameful topics that need to be addressed. Moreover, it will not only help those with less purchasing power, but also other groups such as transgender men. The fact that the free menstrual products are a bleeding swab also means that there is an open wound. Let’s finally start letting her heal.
This article previously appeared in ANS . newspaper.