To tackle the issue of “period poverty,” the Taipei Department of Education is considering offering free menstrual pads to female junior-high school students.
Scotland last year became the first country to provide free, universal access to sanitary products, and schools in New Zealand in February also began offering free sanitary products to students.
Referencing New Zealand’s experience, department officials said they have discussed the matter with junior-high school administration officials and teachers.
Photo: Tsai Ya-hua, Taipei Times
Chan Yi-tsong (諶亦聰), a section chief at the department, said that a pilot program would first be run at 10 selected schools, as there is no allocated budget for implementing a larger project this year.
The pilot program, to be launched as early as June, would provide menstrual pads provided by corporate sponsors to 1,500 of the about 25,000 female junior-high school students in the city, she said.
Each month, they would each receive a bag of day-use menstrual pads, a bag of night-use pads, and a bag of pantyliners, which would be enough for seven days of a menstruation, she said.
The involved schools would also integrate sex education into the health education curriculum, Chen said, adding that a questionnaire would be designed for feedback from the students.
If the pilot project is successful, the department might draw up a budget and expand it to all the city’s junior-high schools and even high schools, she said.
Now that the Gender Equity and Education Act (性別平等教育法) has been enacted for 10 years, students have a general understanding of gender equality, Peicheng Junior High School principal Pan Tzu-ling (潘姿伶) said.
Boys and girls have different needs, and girls using menstrual pads should be seen as normal, not embarrassing, Pan said.
Female students at the school were not in agreement over how free menstrual products should be distributed.
A seventh-grader said that she liked the idea that she could save money on menstrual products and that no one should be embarrassed of having their period.
Another student said that receiving the products in front of classmates would be embarrassing and that she hopes the products would be given privately or delivered to their home.
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