Period poverty refers to the inability to access sanitary products, education pertaining to menstrual hygiene, and proper waste management. The menace affects a significant population the world over, and several countries including India are taking steps to put an end to it.
To begin with, in November 2020, Scotland became the first country to make period products free for all. At that point, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, had tweeted, “Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them. An important policy for women and girls.”
England, too, joined the mission and made period products free in all primary and secondary schools. In February 2021, New Zealand announced that it will roll out free products to students for the next three years. “Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population,” Prime Minister Jacinda Arden told a portal.
“Removing barriers to healthy, active, educational outcomes for children and young people is an important part of the Government’s Youth and Wellbeing Strategy,” she added.
Furthermore, on February 23, 2021, the French government announced that period products would be available for free for students.
As per reports, Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal has stated that soon, student residences and university health services will see machines containing tampons, sanitary towels, and other period products.
By the next academic year i.e. September, the government intends to make period protection “completely free of charge.”
Where does India stand?
In February 2021, while presenting the budget for the year 2021-22, the Rajasthan government declared that it has decided to provide free sanitary napkins to women (with focus on women from rural areas) under the Free Medicine Scheme. Reports suggest that approximately Rs 200 crore is being allocated for the cause.
*All pictures are for representational purposes only.