On this World Menstrual Hygiene Day, Aufeminin is speaking because it is urgent. Urgency, while the health crisis that we have known for these eight weeks has only aggravated the inequalities of the most vulnerable and in particular of women by plunging them a little more into violence and precariousness, we are speaking today today in the name of all those who do not have access to hygienic protection.
Menstrual precariousness prevents 1.7 million women from obtaining hygienic protection when they need it.
It is a public health problem and it must be a priority in 2020.
Last February, the menstruation information report tabled by the National Assembly delegation for women's rights and equal opportunities for men and women made clear recommendations on open access and free access under certain conditions hygienic protections, as well as the control of their components. Recommendations long requested by activists and activists.
We are calling for these three measures today:
– free access to hygienic protections in public places,
– free protection for vulnerable people,
– transparency on the components used in the manufacture of intimate protections.
1 / Free access to hygienic protections in public places.
Some bars and restaurants already do this free of charge: feminist bars offer, for example, “menstrual wedges”, supplied by both managers and the users of toilets. At the University of Rennes 2, the project was able to be funded by allocating part of the participatory budget, the contribution to student life and the solidarity and development fund. Brands were also involved in the project. The total budget is almost € 50,000. In Lille, the University distributed periodic protections to female students in January 2019 free of charge. Towels, tampons, menstrual cups … about 30,000 kits were offered. In Scotland, a bill passed by deputies provides that tampons and sanitary pads are distributed free of charge in specific places (pharmacies, youth clubs, local centers).
The benefits of such measures? In the words of Scottish MP Monica Lennon: this " would mark a turning point by normalizing menstruation (in Scotland) and sending the tangible signal of the seriousness with which our Parliament takes into account gender issues. These are basic commodities, and not a single woman in Scotland should have to live without periodic protections. "
This measure could easily be applied in France, by creating distribution points in identified public places, such as stations, hospitals, pharmacies or public toilets, as recommended in the report. But also in colleges, high schools and universities, town halls … This measure can be implemented using partnerships with quality service providers, French companies that work with healthy products and an ethical approach.
2 / Free protection for precarious people
Hygienic protections, however essential, are expensive and were even taxed as luxury products until 2015. This leads many people today to have to choose between eating or obtaining hygienic protections. Homeless, prisoners, scholarship students, people on the RSA, single mothers, this is a basic necessity product which should in reality be free for everyone who needs it. Not being able to obtain hygienic protections can lead to a worrying drop in social life several days a month, and even to health complications when makeshift protections are used instead.
Protections must be accessible in places such as reception centers for the homeless, for refugees, social hotels and prisons.
Given the state of health emergency in which precarious people find themselves, this claim for free concerns them first.
How to do ? This is possible by reimbursing these protections on request (as is done with certain mutuals such as LMDE). The report also proposes to deploy distributors to easily acquire these protections through a bank card or a prepaid card distributed to the most precarious public.
In France, the total number of people affected by the rules question corresponds to 15.5 million people, or a quarter of the French population in 2018. Spending on rules, excluding drugs and underwear, varies between 1,700 euros and 5400 euros throughout a lifetime.
3 / Transparency on the components used in the manufacture of intimate protections.
There is no shortage of scandals over the composition of tampons, towels, cups and panties. We can find in buffers derivatives of chlorine, glyphosate, dioxin. Although in small amounts, this is problematic because menstrual hygiene products are used on average five days a month for about forty years. Only a few brands are committed today on the subject, by making organic protections and with verified composition, but they are in the minority. To be able to freely choose what affects our body, we need to know how the products are made. We ask that the composition of these products be written on the boxes clearly and legibly, as is already the case for cosmetics and food.
Because we are our choices, we choose through this forum to offer a fairer, more egalitarian world in which the cost of health is no longer an insurmountable obstacle.
And as activist Dolores Huerta said, “Every moment is an opportunity to organize ourselves. Each individual is a potential activist and every minute a chance to change the world. ” , so let's not wait any longer and act, because health is not a choice, it is a duty and this duty will be our fight.