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A teenage girl at school

Rijeka to fight menstrual poverty by supplying schools with free sanitary products

Rijeka to fight menstrual poverty by supplying schools with free sanitary products

The Croatian city seeks to break the stigma surrounding menstruation

Despite the progress women have made over the past several years, many of their rights are still overlooked. Taking a case in point, discussing menstrual cycles is still seen as taboo in many countries and societies. To combat this, the Croatian City of Rijeka has decided to supply schools with free sanitary products from the beginning of the next semester.

According to the municipality, this action is a proactive response to the stark results of a recent study on menstrual poverty. What is more, the City of Rijeka is shedding light on this topic while the government is simultaneously mulling the reduction of VAT on menstrual products from 25% to 5%.

Following the example of other EU cities

Deputy Mayor Sandra Krpan pointed out that menstruation is still heavily stigmatised in Croatia, with people seeing the subject as extremely taboo. To put an end to this, Krpan notes that municipalities must take action and follow the good practice of other European countries.

Giving examples of some initiatives, the Deputy Mayor highlighted that Austria, France, and Scotland have already made menstrual supplies available for free in various public places. In addition to these countries, the City of Varaždin was the first to introduce free sanitary products in Croatia. According to Krpan, Rijeka must now follow Varaždin and, in this way, encourage more cities to destigmatise menstruation.

Of course, providing free menstrual supplies will not be enough to put an end to the stigma surrounding menstrual cycles. Commenting on this, the coordinator of the programme for women’s rights and reproductive justice in the PaRiter association Marinella Matejčić explained:

“Menstrual poverty includes not only the lack of menstrual supplies but also the lack of education. […] Education, as well as health education, which we believe is needed in schools, seems to us to be the right way to remove the stigma from this topic, to talk about it without shame, and for primarily young people to accept biological facts.”

With this action, the municipality will not only help over 2,250 teenage girls but also spark an important discussion that has the power to bring about much-needed change.

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