Menstrual insecurity in France: what do you need to know?

Menstrual precariousness has been one of our concerns since the launch of Elia. This social and public health issue is coming up more and more in discussions, particularly on social networks. Many of you have asked us what it's all about.


What is menstrual precariousness?

Menstrual precariousness is the difficultyfor women, to have access to sanitary protection for lack of means. Emergency solutions seem to be the only way out of this precarious situation: toilet paper salvaged from public places or old newspapers used as sanitary towels, menstrual cups made from the neck of a plastic bottle... These solutions present a real health risk for these women, both physical (irritation, itching, serious infections) and psychological (loss of self-confidence, difficulty of reintegration, social isolation...), taboo of periods).


How many women in France suffer from menstrual insecurity?

In France, an estimated 1.7 million women are in this situation. In the majority of cases, these women are the working poor, students, prisoners or the homeless, who have to go without sanitary protection because they can't afford it.
In fact,20% of French women have already been directly or indirectly affected by menstrual insecurity.

What causes menstrual precariousness?

There are many causes of menstrual precariousness. It's against these that we must take action.

The cost of sanitary protection

Choosing each month between eating or buying a pack of sanitary towels, or going beyond the maximum recommended wearing time of a tampon each day to save as much as possible: this is the daily life of millions of women in a precarious situation when it comes to their menstrual flow.

The cost of sanitary protection is a real brake on the economic reality of their wallets. At Elia, to make our community aware of the menstrual expenses incurred every month since your first periods, we've invented the first savings calculator when you buy a menstrual pad. period pants.

But while in the medium to long term this is an undeniable saving, some women in precarious menstrual situations can't even afford to pay around 30 euros for a pair of panties from periods, not to mention the sometimes complicated access to a water point or washing machine to maintain them. That's why we encourage you to donate your old, new disposable pads to associations that will distribute them to women in need.

The periods taboo and lack of information

There's still an omerta, a silence surrounding periods, the female cycle, the normalization of pain and menstrual pathologies that are sometimes little-known (such as endometriosis). Attitudes are changing, but there's still a long way to go to free ourselves from the periods taboo.
So we need to talk about it, get informed and educate those around us about the issues that concern women on a daily basis. Lack of information leads to menstrual insecurity, which in turn is a source of public health problems, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and gynecological diseases such as toxic shock syndrome. Fortunately, social networks, committed brands like Elia and motivated associations are all helping to take one more step towards these women every day.

What action is being taken in France to combat menstrual insecurity?

While it's important to speak out and take action on menstrual precariousness, a number of initiatives have already been launched in France to combat this inequality. Let's find out what they are!

The association's actions periods Élémentaires

To combat this menstrual precariousness, and help women in need, there are a few solutions. These include the periods Élémentaires association, which organizes collections of intimate hygiene products which it then makes available free of charge to women in need, thanks to a network of partners. The association also aims to raise awareness on this subject, to break the periods taboo that still reigns around this natural phenomenon. We also regularly support their campaigns and events!

Free sanitary pads for female students

Similarly, some universities and student associations are committed to distributing free sanitary pads to female students, as is the case at the University of Lille and the University of Rennes 2. The latter is also planning to install free sanitary protection dispensers in women's toilets, an idea that has also been implemented at the Sorbonne and is spreading to a number of schools. Other alternatives exist for female students: the Mutuelle des Etudiants reimburses 20 to 25 euros a year for the purchase of sanitary pads by its members. This is all part of the fight against menstrual insecurity, which can affect menstruating girls from an early age: every year, the numerous absences due to periods at school can end up causing them to drop out.

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 public places to combat menstrual precariousness. With an initial budget of one million euros, now raised to 5 million, the project aims to distribute free sanitary protection to women who cannot afford it. It also aims to raise awareness of periods among boys and girls, starting in the sixth grade. lWhat's more, members of parliament have reportedly recommended the creation of a sanitary pad recycling plant, as there is currently only one such factory in Europe.

If this experiment bears fruit, France could well follow the example of lScotland, the first country to make tampons and sanitary pads available free of charge to its female students. To be continued...

FAQs on menstrual precariousness

Who is affected by menstrual precariousness?

Almost 2 million French women are currently in a precarious menstrual situation: working poor, students, women in prison, homeless or living in extreme poverty, who can't afford to buy sanitary protection every month.

Where can I find free sanitary pads?

Through specialist associations, such as periods Élémentaires. For female students, some schools are also introducing free sanitary-paper dispensers.

How can we combat menstrual insecurity?

Educate those around you about periods and women's health, and make donations (monetary or in-kind: sanitary protection) to specialized associations.


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