Taiwan launches an initiative to provide menstrual care products in schools and several public venues, accompanied by subsidies, to combat period poverty and promote gender equality.
In a significant move towards gender equality and addressing period poverty, Taiwan has initiated a programme to provide menstrual care products in all educational institutions, alongside subsidies for low-income students, effective from Tuesday, August 1.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) unveiled this endeavour, allocating over US$3.18 million to ensure the availability of menstrual care products across all schools and ten other public locations throughout Taiwan. Premier Chen Chien-jen, a staunch advocate for gender equality, asserted that tackling period poverty is an integral part of this mission.
Chen emphasised that enhancing access to period products and promoting menstruation education aims to alleviate the physical and emotional burdens faced by women, as reported by UDN. The MOE estimates that approximately 95,000 students will directly benefit from this initiative.
Period poverty, as described by the United Nations, encompasses the financial hardships experienced by low-income women and girls when trying to afford essential sanitary pads and tampons, as well as other menstrual products.
Under this programme, students below the high school level in need of menstrual products will receive them either as physical supplies or in the form of redeemable coupons at supermarkets and similar outlets. University students facing the same predicament can also apply for subsidies to supplement their living expenses.
To ensure convenient access, educational institutions will establish designated pick-up points for individuals in need of sanitary products. This system will extend to ten non-school venues.
In addition to expanding access to period products, the MOE is committed to bolstering gender equality education. This initiative seeks to enhance students’ understanding of menstruation and combat societal stigmatisation associated with it.
Taiwan joins the ranks of Scotland and New Zealand, with the former becoming the world’s first country to provide tampons and sanitary pads in all schools in 2020, followed by New Zealand in 2021. In Asia, countries like Japan, Thailand, and Korea have introduced similar programmes in selected regions, though not yet on a nationwide scale.
This progressive step by Taiwan signifies a significant leap towards promoting gender equality and eradicating period poverty, demonstrating the nation’s commitment to ensuring that all students have equitable access to essential menstrual care products.
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