The availability of menstrual products and whether they should be free of charge has been a hot topic for the past years. In February 2021, the Student Council of the Vrije Universiteit (SRVU) in Amsterdam started self-dispensing free menstrual products to students and staff members. Their approach was mainly that the products should be made available to combat menstrual poverty.
Around the same time, Utrecht University also started a pilot together with the participation party Lijst VUUR, which made free menstrual products available to staff and students at the service desks. Their approach was slightly different from the one in Amsterdam, seeing that their aim was to help people with an unexpected period.
The pilot in Utrecht was so successful that it will now become a permanent facility. However, there always remain snags in the implementation. For instance, the products could not be collected anonymously, e.g. from a vending machine, but people had to ask for them at a service desk. There were also questions about the price of the products. Should the products be provided free of charge? Is an university as an organization responsible for dispensing such products? What should one pay attention to when running such a pilot?
With our own board member Remi, who was responsible for the pilot at Utrecht University, and some interesting speakers, we will approach the provision of menstrual products at the university from several perspectives. We will also elaborate on the implementation of the pilot at Utrecht University.