The Walloon government is providing 440,000 euros to provide women in vulnerable situations with free health products. This was announced by Wallonia’s Minister of Health and Women’s Rights Kristi Moriale (PS).
On Sunday in Liege, Minister of Health and Women’s Rights Wallon Christie Moriale promised to take action against menstrual poverty in the region. Free sanitary products will be distributed when necessary.
Poverty remains a taboo and a reality for many girls and women today. “A woman should spend an average of 10 to 12 euros per month in relation to her period, or 120 to 144 euros per year,” Moriale said two days before International Women’s Rights Day. “For many women or families in a vulnerable position, this often means choosing between hygiene products or food, which are two basic needs.”
In order to improve product access, Wallonia has started a pilot project with two women’s rights organizations. As of April, 2.5 million products such as sanitary towels for women will be made available in vulnerable situations in Liege, Namur and Hainaut. The products will be distributed in places where more at-risk populations are received for other purposes anyway, such as shelters, medical homes, family planning centers, emergency shelters and night shelters. The exact list of locations is still being worked out. There will also be dozens of sanitary napkin dispensers and women will receive information brochures about menstrual health. Various awareness campaigns will also follow. Financial support was provided for the project in the amount of 440 thousand euros.
Poverty of the menstrual cycle is a growing phenomenon that has not received more attention in recent years. Last year, BruZelle, an organization in Brussels that fights menstrual poverty, won the De Standaard Solidarity Award. At the end of last year, Federal Minister for Poverty Reduction Karen Laliaux (PS) – a colleague of Morreale – already announced that he would allocate €200,000 for free health products during menstruation. She released the money after an appeal from Children’s Rights Commissioner Caroline Frigens and Caritas Flander to follow the Scottish Free Policy in this regard. A Caritas study of 2,600 respondents showed that 1 in 8 women in Flanders between the ages of 12 and 25 sometimes did not have enough money to buy sanitary towels and tampons. For girls living in poverty, the rate rises to nearly 1 in 2.