The French government will offer free tampons and sanitary towels to female students. From next academic year a total of 1500 machines will be installed at and around universities throughout France. The products can be collected there. Minister Frédérique Vidal (Higher Education) announced this after consultation with interest groups, among others.
According to figures from the French government, about 1.7 million French people have trouble paying sanitary towels and tampons every month. The minister says that women should not get into financial problems because they are women and therefore have their periods. “It is unacceptable that in 2021 women should have to choose whether to buy food or resources to protect themselves,” said Vidal. “It’s about dignity and solidarity.”
Scotland was the first country to provide free sanitary pads and tampons nationwide a few months ago. Until now, only local initiatives existed in France, including in Paris, Rennes and Lille.
Taboo among men
According to critics, the subject was taboo, especially among male politicians. “Some find it distasteful and don’t want to talk about it”, said chairwoman Tara Heuzé-Sarmini of the interest group Règles Élémentaires. “When we started five years ago, a lot of people didn’t understand at all what we were talking about. And still some prefer to ignore it.”
In recent years, several female parliamentarians have published reports and research into what is called ‘précarité menstruelle’ in France (loosely translated: periods without money), and what is now a widely used hashtag on Twitter.