What is menstrual insecurity ?

Menstrual insecurity has been one of our concerns since the launch of Elia. This subject of society and public health comes back more and more in the discussions and especially on the social networks. Many of you have asked us what it is all about.

What is menstrual insecurity ?

Menstrual insecurity is the difficulty, for women, to have access to hygienic protections for lack of means. Emergency solutions seem to be the only ones that can be envisaged to alleviate this precarious situation: toilet paper recovered in public places or old newspaper as a sanitary napkin, menstrual cup made with a plastic bottle neck... These solutions present a real risk for the health of these women, both physical (irritations, itching, serious infections) and psychological (loss of self-confidence, difficulty of reintegration, social isolation, taboo of menstruation).

How many women in France are in a situation of menstrual insecurity?

In France, 1,7 million women would be in this situation. In the majority of the cases, they are poor workers, students, incarcerated women or homeless women who must do without periodical protections because they do not have the means.
20% of French women have already been directly or indirectly affected by menstrual insecurity.

What are the causes of menstrual insecurity ?

The menstrual insecurity can find roots in many causes. It is against these that we must act.

The cost of menstrual protection

To choose each month between eating or buying a pack of sanitary towels, or to exceed each day the maximum duration of wearing a tampon to save as much as possible: here is the daily life of these millions of women in precarious situation in front of their menstrual flow.

The cost of sanitary protection is a real obstacle to the economic reality of their wallet. At Elia, and to make our community aware of the menstrual expenses realized each month since your first period, we have invented the first savings calculator when you buy a menstrual panty.

But, if in the medium or long term, it is an undeniable saving, some women in situation of menstrual insecurity cannot even pay thirty euros for a menstrual panty, without even mentioning a sometimes complicated access to a water point or a washing machine to maintain it. This is why we encourage you to donate your old disposable pads to associations that will distribute them to women in need.

The taboo of menstruation and the lack of information

There is still an omerta, a silence around menstruation, the female cycle, the normalization of pain and menstrual pathologies that are sometimes unknown (such as endometriosis). Mentalities are evolving but there is still a long way to go to free ourselves from the taboo of menstruation.
So we have to talk about it, we have to get information and educate those around us on the subjects that concern women on a daily basis. Lack of information leads to menstrual insecurity, which itself is the source of public health problems by increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and gynecological diseases such as toxic shock syndrome. Fortunately, social networks, committed brands such as Elia and motivated associations contribute to take a step forward every day towards these women.

What are the actions implemented in France to fight against menstrual insecurity?

Although it is necessary to speak and act in favor of menstrual insecurity, actions have already been set up in France to fight against this inequality. Let us see together what are these steps!

The actions of the association Règles Élémentaires

To fight against this menstrual precariousness, and to help the women in need, there are some solutions. We think in particular of the association Règles Élémentaires which organizes collections of products of intimate hygiene which it then places free at the disposal of the women in need, thanks to a network of partners. This association also aims to raise awareness on this subject in order to break the taboo of menstruation that still reigns around this natural phenomenon. Moreover, we regularly support their campaigns and events!

Free sanitary protection for students

In the same way, some universities and student associations are committed to distributing free menstrual protection to students, such as the University of Lille and the University of Rennes 2. The latter also wishes to install free sanitary protection dispensers in women's toilets, an idea that has also been implemented at the Sorbonne and that is tending to become widespread in several schools. Other alternatives exist for female students, the Mutuelle des Etudiants reimburses 20 to 25 euros per year for the purchase of sanitary protection by its members. All this to fight against menstrual insecurity, because it can occur from a very young age in menstruating girls: each year, the numerous absences related to menstruation at school can end up causing school dropouts.

A budget of 5 million euros deployed by the State in 2021

On the government side, progress also seems to be on the way with the launch of an experiment in several collective places in order to fight against menstrual insecurity. This project, with an initial budget of one million euros, has been increased to 5 million and aims to distribute free sanitary protection to women who cannot afford it. It also aims to raise awareness of menstruation among girls and boys, starting in the sixth grade. In addition, members of parliament have recommended the creation of a sanitary napkin recycling industry, although only one factory is dedicated to this today in Europe.

If this experimentation is successful, France could well follow the example of Scotland, the first country to provide free tampons and sanitary pads to its students. To be continued...

The FAQ of menstrual insecurity

Who is affected by menstrual insecurity ?

Almost 2 million French women are today in a situation of menstrual precariousness: poor workers, students, incarcerated women, homeless or in great poverty who cannot afford to buy sanitary protection every month.

Where can I find free sanitary protection?

Through specialized associations, such as Règles Élémentaires. For students, some schools are also introducing free sanitary protection dispensers.

How to fight against menstrual insecurity?

By educating others about menstruation and women's health, by making donations (monetary or in kind: sanitary pads) to specialized associations.

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