Catalonia is set to address the pressing issue of period poverty by providing free reusable menstrual cups, period pants, and pads at pharmacies, aligning itself with Scotland as one of the first regions to undertake such an initiative. These essential products are anticipated to be accessible in the first quarter of 2024, benefitting approximately 2.5 million individuals, including girls, women, and those identifying as non-binary or transgender who experience menstruation.
Period poverty, characterized by limited access to menstrual hygiene products due to factors like cost, lack of sanitation facilities, and insufficient education, often leads to missed school or work and poses risks of infection and toxic shock syndrome.
Tania Verge, the head of Catalonia’s equality and feminism department, expressed Catalonia’s commitment to sexual and reproductive rights and emphasized the introduction of new rights, such as “the right to menstrual equality,” amidst global challenges to these rights.
Pharmacies in Catalonia will take on the role of distributing these products while providing personalized guidance. Beyond ensuring menstrual equality, this measure aims to promote the use of reusable products, effectively reducing the more than 9,000 tons of waste generated annually in Catalonia from disposable tampons and sanitary pads.
It’s worth noting that Spain passed a law last year mandating the distribution of menstrual products at schools, prisons, women’s healthcare facilities, and other public institutions, but this initiative marks the first universal approach. In 2020, Scotland set a global precedent by becoming the first country to offer free sanitary products, leading the way in addressing this critical issue.
Catalonia’s progressive step not only alleviates the burden of period poverty but also contributes to environmental sustainability through the promotion of reusable alternatives, marking a significant milestone in the fight for menstrual equality.