Click here to read this post in Dutch.
For nearly a decade, people around the world have been marking May 28th as International Menstrual Hygiene Day. Beyond promoting good menstrual health and hygiene on this day, their goal has been to end period stigma and break the silence around period poverty. We love this goal–all year round it’s reflected in our social media–as well as in the Dignity Kits and Menstruation Stations we make available all across Amsterdam.
What we’re doing and why
During the next two weeks, we’ll provide Dignity Kits and restock our Menstruation Stations as we always do, but you’ll also be able to follow (and join in!) our own online awareness-building campaign.
Psst…language matters. While adequate menstrual hygiene is a necessary part of menstrual health, rather than focusing on sanitation, we believe it’s important to talk about how menstruation can affect us overall; that means socially, physically, emotionally and mentally. And unfortunately, one of the persistent, stigmatizing views is that periods are somehow shamefully dirty, rather than what they actually are: a wholly natural, powerful and yes, sometimes messy process that just requires some real talk and access to products (whether single-use or reusable). That’s why it’s Menstrual Health Day* for us. Pass it on!
But why a campaign around Menstrual Health Day? Here’s the thing. We don’t want to limit ourselves to helping people who menstruate** by providing the products they need. We want to end period poverty, and we believe the first step to ending period poverty is talking about it.
That means talking about periods in general, online and off. Acknowledging challenges out loud. Sharing knowledge and solutions. Celebrating the wins together. Shame is a powerful part of what keeps stigmas going. By normalizing chat about this fundamental aspect of our lives, we begin to break down stubborn period taboos. While we break down period taboos, we also want to break the silence on the profound impact period poverty has on people everywhere–including in Amsterdam. So that’s why we’re using this online #PeriodTalks/#MenstruatieTalks campaign to share personal stories and get people talking about periods and about period poverty.
Any way you look at it, Amsterdam is a wealthy city. So how does period poverty fit in? It’s also a city with a housing crisis, where the cost of living continues to rise. You know what else is rising? The number of people in Amsterdam living below the poverty line. According to official statistics, that number rose to 20% in 2020, and the inequalities haven’t decreased since then. That’s 1 in 5 people living in poverty. And bottom line, an estimated 26,000 people in Amsterdam struggle to pay for the menstruation products they need–which is totally unacceptable.
As we’ve said before, people should be able to access the period products they need, regardless of their circumstances. And having your period should never mean skipping meals or other basic needs.
Getting the word out so more people know about the scale and impact of this unacceptable problem is an essential step in building citywide support for public health policies that fully address this need. Together, we can end period poverty in Amsterdam.
What you can do
Continue talking about menstrual health and period poverty, online and off, in ways that promote dignity and feel right for you.
- Trigger conversations with those close to you, whether family, friends or colleagues, using this downloadable, printable info. There are more potential allies out there than you might think.
- Start asking questions. “Why isn’t the office/school/restaurant/bar restroom supplied with period products?”
- Spread the word about our #PeriodTalks during the coming two weeks by sharing the Insta campaign posts online, from LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter, and let local legislators know that ending period poverty matters to you. Tag them in your tweet.
- Consider making a recurring or one-time, tax-deductible donation. Donating takes just a minute here, but makes a real difference in helping more people now. 100% of what you donate goes to filling Dignity Kits and Menstruation Stations. The more Menstruation Stations we set up, the more visible the existing need becomes, further building awareness about period poverty across the city.
- Get your company involved, whether by stocking a Menstruation Station for a year or matching your and other employee donations. Stocking a Menstruation Station costs on average €40 per month; your business can make a direct, local difference by stocking a Menstruation Station for a full year, which costs just €500. All campaign donations will only be used to buy these urgently needed products.
- Tell us about a neighborhood location that could use a Menstruation Station. Our self-serve cabinets can be set up on the street and in restrooms, in community centers, places of worship, and businesses. Of course, we give priority to underserved areas with greater need. If you know of a place, drop us the contact information for the person we’d need to speak with, along with an explanation about the location at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can only do this together. So follow our #PeriodTalks Instagram campaign. Let’s talk about periods. Let’s keep talking about period poverty, and, beyond what we do today and tomorrow, let’s keep making “good trouble” until there is no period poverty.
*You can also support changing the language by adding your signature to Josie Parmee’s #HealthNotHygiene petition.
**We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it: not all who menstruate are women, and not all women menstruate.