Several universities worldwide have established programs to provide no-cost menstrual products for students and staff to combat period poverty. Although around 60% of IE University students are female, shockingly, IE University Segovia Campus does not offer menstrual products on campus.
Period poverty is a recently coined term that describes the socioeconomic obstacles that prevent people who menstruate from having access to sanitary products and safe care for needs during their period. Through the years, nations have categorized necessary articles like tampons and pads as “luxury items” to impose an additional tax known as the value-added tax (VAT) to alter their value. Sadly, in Spain, period poverty remains a threat as the VAT on sanitary pads has hovered around 10% (excluding the Canary Islands), while Viagra only has a VAT of 4%.
Important advances towards widespread access to menstrual products have been increasing in Spain. Period products have been tax-free in the Canary Islands since 2018; and as of March 8th, 2021, Universidad de Vigo became a pioneer in being the first university in Spain to tackle period poverty head-on, by offering free pads and tampons to students and staff.
Paloma Alma – a Spanish activist and founder of CYLCO Menstruación Sostenible, criticized Spain’s reluctance to tackle period poverty – “perhaps it is time to put numbers to the realities that many menstrual educators see, that not all of them have enough to buy the menstrual product of their choice.”
IE University students have started to voice their concerns regarding the lack of available menstruation products on the Segovia campus. “Fortunately, I haven’t had an urgent need for sanitary products at university yet – but since the campus is so far away from stores which sell them, and there are no selling points in university either, I can imagine that they would be incredibly helpful in the case of an emergency,” first-year Bachelor of Computer Science student Maud Helen Hovland said.
Another student, first-year Bachelor of Communications and Digital Media student Karina Fernandez, stated “Days at universityUni can already be so stressful. Having period products available to you for those days when you have to stay on campus for hours would facilitate the learning for menstruating people on campus,”.
This issue has recently been challenged by IE students through the sharing of a short survey on social media, its main purpose is to collect data regarding the support behind this call for change – https://forms.gle/v3Jzu5x9ymqBuzLF9.
In sum, since more than half of the IE university community menstruates, many students have demanded an increased access to period products within the campuses to provide a more care-free, empowering, and overall comfortable environment for students and staff.