The solution.

tampon and pad graphic

We need an accessible, non-stigmatising supply and distribution scheme for a range of free hygiene and sanitary products that will reach South Australian girls who cannot afford to purchase these essential items themselves.

We can no longer shrug off the impact of menstruation as an individual challenge or something to be dealt with alone.

It is time to address menstrual wellbeing and the current failings in raising awareness, providing education, and supporting menstrual management.

We must acknowledge that menstruation is an equal opportunity issue, which needs a comprehensive systemic response in education, employment, wellbeing, and health policy.

Evidence suggests that positive experiences of menstruation come from having access to high quality information, appropriate infrastructure, and resources to support menstrual hygiene.

In this way, we can reduce menstrual taboos and stigma and provide far-reaching benefits that include increased confidence, higher educational attainment, and ultimately, improved quality of life.

 “As long as women are bound by poverty and as long as they are looked down upon, human rights will lack substance.”  (Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela)

 

“In a society as rich as Scotland’s no one should have to suffer the indignity of not having the means to meet their basic needs.  We also want to continue to reduce the stigma and address the overarching gender equality and dignity issues that affect everyone who menstruates, regardless of their income.”  (Scottish Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell)

Below are examples of some of the places around the world where they are getting it right, or starting to make headway:

Parliament of Scotland

In November 2020, Scotland became the first country to make period products free for all who need them.

The Scottish Parliament passed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill that allows anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge.

It aims to reduce period poverty and the effects of stigma attached to menstruation.

The products will be made available in all educational and other public institutions, such as pharmacies and community centres.

It is estimated the scheme will cost around 24 million pounds per year (AU$44 million).

 “This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates.”   (Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who introduced the Bill)

Source: https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/bills/period-products-free-provision-scotland-bill

Government of South Africa

In July 2020, the South African Government made free sanitary products available to vulnerable women and girls in poor communities.

The South African Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disability, has developed an integrated framework to provide sanitary products to ensure that every girl and woman has the opportunity to manage menstruation in a knowledgeable, safe and dignified manner.

The Sanitary Dignity Framework also committed to the provision of clean and reliable supply of water and access to clean, safe toilets with toilet paper, and somewhere to dispose safely of used products. It also provided for education on sanitary dignity to include men and boys, families, communities and community leaders, via the education curriculum and awareness campaigns.

Source: http://www.women.gov.za/images/Sanitary-Dignity-Framework—June-2019-9-07-2019-without-highlights.pdf

City of New York, United States

The Total Access to Menstrual Products Act requires that all female-designated bathrooms in the state of New York provide feminine hygiene products at no cost.

Other legislation has already mandated that menstrual products are freely available in public schools, homeless shelters, and prisons.

Source: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/a10270?intent=support

City of Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart City Council is partnering with Share the Dignity to provide free menstrual products. Known as #pinkbox, the free vending machine is installed in a public place that is convenient and safe, has high visitation, and is regularly used by young people and people experiencing homelessness.

Source: Hobart City / Council News / Pink Box  

City of Melbourne, Victoria

The City of Melbourne is piloting the provision of free menstrual products in a number of its public facilities from 10 September 2021.The sites include public changing rooms, recreation centres, swimming pools, community centres and libraries.

Source: Community Health-Support-Services – Gender Equality – Period Poverty

 

Indonesian Law

Under Indonesian labour laws, since 2003, female workers who feel pain during their menstrual period are not obliged to go to work on the first and second day of their period.

Source: Indonesian Labour Law – Act 13 of 2003 (ilo.org)

 

South Australian Local Councils

A number of South Australian councils are offering rebates for reusable sanitary products. Tea Tree Gully and Holdfast Bay Councils, for example, will provide households with a one-off 50% rebate on sanitary pads, sanitary cups, leak-proof underwear and wet bags up to a maximum of $100.

Victorian Government

The Victorian Government has installed dispensing machines for period products in every government school in the state.

https://www.vic.gov.au/free-sanitary-pads-and-tampons-all-government-schools

New South Wales Government

In March 2022, the New South Wales government announced it will invest $30 million to ensure students who menstruate have access to free period products in all public schools.

https://education.nsw.gov.au/news/latest-news/free-menstrual-hygiene-products-for-public-schools

Municipal Assembly of Lisbon, Portugal

The Municipal Assembly of Lisbon, Portugal has announced (14 March 2022) that it will distribute free reusable pads and cups to over 100 public schools across the city. It will also embark on campaigns to seek to combat disinformation and stigma surrounding menstruation.

https://www.portugal.com/news/socialist-partys-proposal-approved-in-lisbon-free-reusable-period-products-provided-to-public-school-students/

South Australian Schools

Elizabeth Grove Primary School and Hallett Cove R-12 School have established Sanitary Products School Committments to support the provision of sanitary products in accessible places around their schools. This includes a commitment that school staff will allow students ready access to period products without comment.

https://elizgrps.sa.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Elizabeth-Grove-Primary-School-Sanitary-Products-School-Commitment.pdf https://www.hcs.sa.edu.au/sanitary-products

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