“How bad is period poverty in Amsterdam?”
We’re sometimes asked this question, and our response is a blend of our direct experience in Amsterdam supporting those in need and the existing research on period poverty in the Netherlands (see side bar).
No one should have to choose between tampons and food.
In Amsterdam, the official number of those living under the poverty line (set at 120% of the legal minimum income) remains higher than the national average, and that number has been on the increase. This means more people struggle to pay for essential needs. For those who menstruate or support others who menstruate, essential needs include period products.
In 2019, De Bovengrondse conducted an exploratory study, interviewing local organizations and 170 participants in Amsterdam. They confirmed what we have seen: that period poverty is an issue particularly among the working poor, homeless, and people without papers.
In 2019, Plan International NL conducted a study, asking 1037 participants across the Netherlands about period poverty. They concluded that:
– One in 10 study participants indicated they deal with period poverty (1%-9%).
– For example, almost one tenth of the participants sometimes have to ask someone else for a menstrual product, themselves lacking the money and nearly a tenth periodically simply have too little money to buy menstrual products (9%).
– The need to re-use menstrual products occurs mainly in Northern Netherlands (5% vs. 2% in other areas).
Although the report was an instructive analysis of period poverty in Amsterdam, they underscored that it was “intended to be an initial exploration, and indicative rather than representative in nature.”
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Period poverty was an issue in 2019 and continues to be one in 2022, affecting people’s school and work, and impacting them physically and mentally. Through our Dignity Kits and Menstruation Stations, we’ve been busy supporting some of those most in need, but so many more out there continue to struggle. We see real urgency for a more sustainable response. Our goal is clear: to ensure lasting solutions for everyone who experiences period poverty in Amsterdam. To end period poverty in the city, though, it’s important to have a clearer view of the scale of the problem today.
Illustration credit: Suzero.
Clearly quantifying the problem gets us closer to the needed solutions.
This is why we’ve teamed up with Opinium, an award-winning international research agency. Opinium’s clients include corporations but also institutions, such as the European Commission, as well as universities and non-profit organizations. In partnership with Neighborhood Feminists, they will conduct the quantitative study on period poverty in Amsterdam.
Opinium has experience with the subject. Last year, Opinium won an industry award for the research on period poverty in the UK they conducted in collaboration with Plan International UK. The research they conducted changed the narrative there by clearly establishing both the extent of period poverty and its impact. Using this research, policy makers and local groups worked together to tackle the issue of period poverty, and as a result, today:
- the UK government now provides free period products in schools
- the sex education curriculum in the UK now requires menstruation health teaching
- the Royal College of GPs reviewed their guidance around menstrual wellbeing after seeing the research on girls not speaking up about period issues due to embarrassment
Imagine a city where period products are free for everyone who needs them.
If you live in Amsterdam, please join in. Help us bring this idea closer to reality by taking the short survey. Directly encourage others who live in Amsterdam to join in, too, whether by sharing our posts or the survey link. From September 15, you can go to www.AMSmenstruates.nl to answer the survey questions.