The prefectural board of education in Southwest Japan has decided to provide periods products to all girls for free at all prefectural schools beginning from December. This is part of a more extensive campaign to address “period poverty,” in which women cannot afford pads or tampons.
The Miyazaki Prefectural Board of Education tested the free sanitation products program for about six weeks starting late August of this year in seven junior high senior high, special needs schools. They also conducted a survey. There were 512 students, which is approximately 30 percent of female students at the schools, who responded to the study and, of those, there were 156 students, which is 30.5 percent, utilized the free products for sanitary use.
When asked if they had struggled or been unable to purchase or get period products in a multiple answer question, 52 respondents, or 10%, stated that they were having difficulties “sometimes” or “every time.” If asked where they would prefer to see the free items offered, 453 (73% of respondents) chose “bathroom stalls.”
Based on the survey conducted, the board of education selected the girls’ bathrooms as the area to stock products for the period. The expense will be covered by the school’s operating budget, which is used to purchase toilet paper and other items.
Yumi Toyama, a director of the non-profit Miyazaki gender equality promotion group responsible for collecting non-sanitary items in an unmarked box in the Miyazaki prefectural center for gender equality and distributing them at free. She said that the world is changing in a positive direction. Toyama added, “Now that the prefectural government has taken action, we expect a ripple effect spreading to municipal elementary and junior high schools. I hope people will soon gain access (to sanitary products) as they have with toilet paper.”
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