Period poverty: Belgian government pledges €200,000 to make menstruation products more accessible

The Belgian government's commitment follows the landmark decision from Scotland in November to make period products free for all
The Belgian government's commitment follows the landmark decision from Scotland in November to make period products free for all Copyright Mark Lennihan/AP
By Rachael Kennedy
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The decision, announced on Tuesday, follows on from the landmark decision in Scotland last month to make period products free for all.

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Belgium's government has pledged €200,000 to an ongoing campaign to make women's hygiene products more accessible to all.

The cash will be split between two organisations, the Women's Council and the Conseil Francophones des Femmes de Belgique, to work towards ending period poverty for the many women who consider tampons and sanitary pads a luxury - rather than an easy-to-access necessity.

"We must break the taboo of menstruation," said Belgian Minister for Poverty Reduction Karine Lalieux. "A woman should not choose between food for her family or purchasing hygiene aids. The fight against this menstrual insecurity is therefore a collective fight."

Announcing the grant on Tuesday, Lalieux highlighted that periods are something around half the population of Belgium will experience, with each woman having an average of 500 in her lifetime. The cost of this, then, begins to rack up with each monthly cycle.

"The consequences are often not insignificant," the government said in a press release, pointing out that costs were still high despite lower VAT rates. "It discriminates against women and young girls and causes school dropouts, absenteeism, health problems, etc. In a country like ours, such a thing is impossible."

The decision comes just over a month after Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free for all. It was a landmark decision from MPs, who unanimously voted in favour of the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.

"The fight against menstrual poverty is a social issue," Lalieux said, adding: "This is about equality.

"Belgium can once again play a pioneering role in this area. But then we have to mean it."

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