Western Japanese city to start providing free sanitary napkins amid coronavirus pandemic

Akashi’s municipal government can be seen in this file photo from September 26, 2019 (Mainichi / Toshihiro Hamamoto)

AKASHI, Hyogo – The government in this western Japanese city to provide free sanitary napkins to municipal schools and public facilities starting in April in an effort to support economically strapped women difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes as local educators have expressed concern that it is difficult for some students to purchase sanitary napkins due to their family budgets affected by the pandemic.

A total of 43 public schools in the city – from elementary, middle and high schools to special schools – will be covered by the program, with additional towels being regularly stocked at school nurses’ offices.

In addition, sanitary napkins will also be equipped in socialization facilities between middle and high school students, as well as a multi-purpose bathroom near JR Akashi Station.

The city is allocating the excess spending for this fiscal year to consumables and is also considering formulating an additional budget for the initiative.

According to a survey by a citizen group called “#Minna no Seiri”, which aims to raise awareness and educate people about women’s period, one in five female students and others have had difficulty obtaining articles from menstrual hygiene for financial reasons in the past year.

Akashi Mayor Fusaho Izumi told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We would like to continually respond to child poverty and student struggles as their voices are hard to hear and notice amid the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. . ”

The problem of so-called “menstrual poverty” in Japan has become widely recognized in recent times, as it is often difficult for women to speak out on the problem. Toshima Ward’s office in Tokyo, meanwhile, began distributing free sanitary napkins from March 15.

(Japanese original from Toshihiro Hamamoto, Akashi local office)


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