The City of Helsinki will launch a three-month experiment related to the distribution of free menstrual hygiene products in three educational institutions and one comprehensive school this autumn.
Experiment to take place in September–November
The Education Committee has decided to launch an experiment to distribute free menstrual hygiene products in basic and upper secondary education. The experiment will survey period poverty as a phenomenon in basic and upper secondary education. Pupils and students of the schools and educational institutions participating in the experiment can join the experiment via a registration link. The first menstrual products will be distributed in September. The sensitive nature of the matter is taken into account in the experiment, and it is carried out in close cooperation with educational institutions in view of the needs and requests of the participating pupils and students. The educational institutions participating in the experiment are Hiidenkiven peruskoulu comprehensive school (grades 6–9), Sibelius-lukio upper secondary school, Tölö Gymnasium upper secondary school and Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute, Vilppulantie unit. The participants will receive a package containing menstrual products for one month’s use at a time. They may choose a package containing either tampons or pads or both or a menstrual cup for the duration of the entire experiment. At the end of the experiment, participants will be invited to take an electronic survey concerning their experiences of the experiment.
Helsinki aims to investigate the effects of period poverty
The experiment also aims to investigate whether the price of menstrual products affects students’ participation in education, or even prevents it altogether. The money spent on menstrual products may form a significant portion of a pupil’s or student’s weekly or monthly budget. The monthly cost of pads and tampons varies from a couple of euros up to as much as ten euros. Riina Ståhlberg, Head of Student Welfare at the Education Division, emphasises the importance of the experiment. “We have come to understand that the purchase of menstrual products may be too big of an investment for some students. Every student must be able to participate in classroom instruction regardless of their periods. The experiment will give us valuable information on the subject and, at the same time, we will be able to continue the important social debate on the taxation of essential female health products, among other things. By lowering the taxation of menstrual hygiene products, we can promote equality.”
Source: City of Helsinki, Department of Education