Free pads and tampons at the Hanze
As of this week, the Hanze University of Applied Sciences is a so-called MUP, a dispensing point for free menstrual products. 'The products are for our own students and employees, but neighbours who need can also come and collect it', says Esther Smid, initiator of the menstrual cupboards.
'For ten years I was a single welfare mother with three daughters. So you can imagine how many sanitary pads, tampons, shampoo and other care products you go through. We live in Beijum, a relatively poor neighborhood with many giveaway cabinets. I remember how happy I was when I found a packet of sanitary pads in a neighbour's giveaway cupboard', Esther says while simultaneously answering the phone of the Marie KamphuisBorg Service Point and helping a student log in to the Hanze's wi-fi. The fact that something as simple as a packet of sanitary pads could make her so happy made Esther decide to place a giveaway cabinet with care products at her own home. "Neighbors donated products, it immediately went crazy."
When Esther started work at the Hanze, she thought she had to let go of her commitment to menstrual poverty. But she soon made it her mission again. During her first week of work at the Hanze she checked the toilets and discovered that there were menstrual cupboards, but they were payment machines. 'At the service points you could ask for free sanitary pads, but I wanted every menstruating person to be able to grab free items without asking.'
The Hanze had already taken the initiative to make the products available for free and Esther was asked to coordinate it. 'We have now almost reached the point where there is at least one cupboard in every building, which everyone can use anonymously. Because not every building has a gender-neutral toilet, the cupboards also hang in other places. I think we have succeeded in making the products as accessible as possible to everyone.'
The MUPs are a collaboration between the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the Poverty Fund. The Poverty Fund makes the products available and the Hanze provides the facilities. 'The products are for our own students and employees, but neighbours who need can also come and collect it' The MUPs are recognisable by a purple butterfly, the logo of the Poverty Fund', Esther concludes.
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