Inflation. It’s affecting the prices of almost everything, especially groceries and energy prices. Menstrual products were already considered to be expensive 3 years ago, but with inflation, the prices have spiked even more. With an increasing number of people unable to afford menstrual products, it is no surprise that some countries have taken this issue up. Following this, even some universities have decided to make period products available for free. Universities in Utrecht, Tilburg, Radboud, Twente and other cities have made the decision to start offering free period products.
UvA also made the decision to start investigating the logistics of providing free menstrual products. The Central Student Council brought this issue to the attention of the Executive Board, and the university decided to first conduct a pilot study. There are period products available for 15 cents in the vending machines around the campuses. Whether the study was fruitful or not is another discussion, as many students do not even know that the UvA provides period products at a reduced price. This communication issue is not a first for the university, albeit disappointing. If the study reveals that people do not make frequent use of vending machines for these products, does this mean that the university will cut back on its initial premise?
The CSR conducted a pilot study on the side, independently, by providing packs of menstrual products in toilets. The study showed that people did make use of the free products and there was a high demand for them. They found that there was a real need for dispensers in bathrooms to allow people to get products when in need. Along with Periodic, the CSR is hoping to really push this issue and get people involved. A dispenser in one of CREA’s bathrooms has already been installed, and CSR is hoping to get even more installed on campus. The next steps will be to keep on pressuring the university to make a decision, and to ensure it’s the right one. The CSR is working alongside multiple organizations to plan events that increase awareness of this issue as well as the number of people involved. If more people get involved, a foundation can be built for this issue, to ensure that the university will be constantly reminded that their students have needs that they are not yet able to meet.
Period poverty is an issue that affects a lot of people and as students, many cannot afford to buy products if the prices keep on increasing. The university is supposed to be supportive and help students, especially when it comes to such issues. They should be taking that step towards making products free in all bathrooms. While the initiative seems promising, it is still unclear whether the university will be able to deliver. According to the university, a decision will be made at the end of the academic year. The CSR is pushing for UvA to achieve its goal of having free period products in all toilets, however, the question is, will the university stick to the promise they made?