France is getting one step closer to ensuring everyone in the country who menstruates has access to period products.
University students will now have access to free period products, the country’s Minister for Higher Education Frédérique Vidal announced on Tuesday, according to Deutsche Welle. Hundreds of universities will be required to install free tampon and pad dispensers at campus health centers and dormitories over the next few weeks.
The government is working with student organizations to implement the measures and is aiming to make period products free to all by September, Vidal said.
French President Emmanuel Macron recommitted to his promise in December to address period poverty in the country on Tuesday in response to the new mandate.
“Long invisible, student period insecurity is an injustice that we can no longer tolerate,” he wrote on Twitter.
The announcement follows an initiative introduced in September 2020 to give out organic period products in high schools in France’s Île-de-France region.
The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating period poverty worldwide as more people experience economic hardship, and period poverty in France is widespread. A recent survey found that in 13%, 1 in 3 women, have had to choose between buying period products and other basics like food. Another study found that 2 million women in France lack access to period products. Students who experience period poverty are especially at risk and might miss school if they can’t manage menstruation.
While some menstrual advocates argue that making students request period products from nurses and health centers creates an additional barrier to access, France’s announcement has been well received.
The period poverty organization Règles Élémentaires, with which Vidal met virtually on Tuesday, has been campaigning to make period products more accessible since 2015 and applauded the move.
“Yesterday was a great day in the fight against menstrual insecurity with the announcement of the free protection in universities. thanks to @VidalFrederique to have heard our requests,” the organization wrote on Twitter.