In the year of 2023, the University still does not have easily accessible menstrual sanitation products available for its students on their campus, even for purchase. Despite their means to do so, it is nearly impossible to find a pad or tampon, which in many ways upholds stigmas surrounding menstruation in society while simultaneously inhibiting, in some circumstances, students’ ability to be in the classroom and learn.
It’s 2023. There should be no embarrassment or shame in talking about periods. Roughly 49.7% of the global population is biologically female, including 54% of IE University students. As the average age to begin one’s menstrual cycle is 12 years old, it is safe to say that there are many students who fall into this category at IE.
I have heard that there are some sanitary products available to students in the infirmary on -3 in the Tower. I decided to go check for myself. While maybe they do have some available, the infirmary was closed in the middle of the school day when I went to look, at 14:45 on a Wednesday. The main issue here is that there is a lack of accessibility, meaning that while there may exist means to access tampons and pads, that access is not guaranteed.
In the case that the reader has never experienced it, not having the proper sanitary products during a menstrual cycle is a very uncomfortable and scary experience. While oftentimes a friend may be able to help, everyone with a period has suffered a time where they nor anyone they know has any supplies. In these scenarios, what we need is access to such supplies within the confines of the restroom itself – not downstairs, not in the pharmacy, but in the actual restroom. We do not want to have to go searching for a basic product that we need to feel comfortable at school.
School should be a safe place for everyone to be. However, the lack of available menstrual products can cause a student to skip class and return home early, or to waste class time to go searching around the campus for products. This not only has the potential to perpetuate negative attitudes surrounding periods that affect women worldwide, but this seriously infringes upon the rights of half the student population to have reliable access to the learning experiences and community that IE wishes to foster. Any potential hindrance to education should be a top priority of the institution to resolve as soon as possible. Luckily enough, this problem has a clear solution: Install sanitary product dispensers in the bathrooms.
It is commonly accepted that the institution should provide toilet paper, hand soap, and a hand dryer in the restroom. But, it is time to add menstrual sanitation products to the list. People do not actively choose to have a period but rather experience it as a natural part of life. La Universidad de Vigo, another Spanish University, has taken the initiative to provide free period products to all their students as a part of their basic needs, to fight period poverty, and to break stigmas that still exist surrounding menstruation. If IE wanted to, the following suit would be a shift well within their means that would transform the institution into a much more inclusive place for everyone.
Marketing themselves as a university of the future, IE must properly address the aspects in which they fall short. Therefore, I am calling upon IE University to ensure reliable access to menstrual sanitation products in the bathrooms of all their campuses in such a way that does not inflict an excessive burden on their students. I am hopeful that this time they hear our voices and inflict tangible change.
Featured image: Unsplash