TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan will make period products available in all schools starting Tuesday (Aug.1) and provide additional subsidies for low-income students to purchase supplies they need independently.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Monday that over NT$100 million (US$3.18 million) would be invested in the provision of menstrual care products in all educational institutions and 10 other venues throughout Taiwan. Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) has said that ending period poverty is part of promoting gender equality.
Chen said that improving access to period products and improving education about menstruation aims to reduce the physical and mental burden experienced by women, per UDN. The MOE estimates about 95,000 students will benefit from the program.
The U.N. describes period poverty as the difficulty faced by low-income women and girls while trying to afford sanitary pads and tampons, and the economic hardship caused by having to purchase these and other menstrual products.
Students below the high school level who need menstrual products will be provided with them in the form of physical supplies or coupons that can be redeemed at supermarkets or similar outlets. Students in need at universities can likewise apply for subsidies to supplement living payments if needed.
In addition, schools and universities will create pick-up points for those needing sanitary products at healthcare centers or similar venues. This arrangement will also be used at the following 10 non-school venues:
- National Museum of Natural Science (Taichung)
- National Taiwan Science Education Center (Taipei)
- National Science and Technology Museum (Kaohsiung)
- National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (Pingtung)
- National Museum of Marine Science and Technology (Keelung)
- National Education Radio at Nanhai Academy (Taipei)
- National Central Library (Taipei)
- National Taiwan Library (New Taipei)
- National Library of Public Information (Taichung)
- National Taiwan Arts Education Center (Taipei)
The ministry said that in addition to improving access to period products, it will also expand gender equality education to improve female and male students' understanding of menstruation and reduce its social stigma.
Scotland became the first country in the world to provide tampons and sanitary pads in all schools in 2020, and New Zealand followed in 2021. In Asia, Korea, Japan, and Thailand have distributed sanitary products in schools in specific areas, though not nationwide.