We have celebrated Scotland’s step to make free period products universally available. We have seen other countries, such as the UK and France, also pass significant legislation concretely addressing period poverty. Unfortunately, there are still no such national measures in place in the Netherlands.
Raising the minimum wage is the single most significant step the government can take against all forms of poverty, including period poverty.
In the current absence of a national policy and facing the dramatic rise in the cost of living, municipalities must address the persistent problem of period poverty. Recognizing the urgency and citing our recent research that confirms significant levels of period poverty across Amsterdam, a majority of city council members have risen to the challenge.
This week, the Amsterdam factions of GroenLinks, Bij1, Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA), D66, Partij van de Dieren (PvdD), List Kabamba and DENK jointly submitted an initiative proposal that calls for making period products freely available for those who need them, regardless of gender identity or legal status.
They propose products be made available at locations across the city such as: schools, libraries, pharmacies, homeless shelters and asylum seeker centers.
The proposed initiative also includes a call for clear menstrual health information that is educational and practical to be provided in schools. The aim is to reduce both health risks and the stigma around periods and period poverty.
While the proposed initiative will be under review in the coming weeks, the factions called for €50.000 to be made available for a pilot project. They wish to meet some of the increasing need in the shorter term by distributing period products in areas where people are at increased risk of experiencing period poverty. Yesterday, the city council approved the funding of this pilot project.
Like us and many others, these Amsterdam city council members rightly recognize that, as they declared, “access to menstrual products is a basic need and lack of access has negative effects on health…and contributes to gender inequity.”
Period poverty, left unaddressed, deepens the gender gap in education and work.
Fighting period poverty is as much a matter of equality as it is a matter of public health.
Let’s ensure this fundamental need is met for everyone who menstruates.
You can download and read the full proposal (translated into English) here: