In planning: automatic dispensers of sanitary napkins for the toilets of the schools in Essen

In Essen schools, vending machines must be installed where female students can purchase tampons and sanitary pads. The project is complicated.

Automatic dispensers of sanitary pads and sanitary pads will be installed in the Essen schools. What is already working in other municipalities such as Bottrop or Hamm, or at least is currently being tested, should also be tested in Essen. It is not yet certain when this will happen.

CDU, Verdi and SPD want to launch a joint application that will be decided at the next board meeting at the end of May. There is still no common application text, but the aim should be that the municipal administration reflects and presents several variations. “This is not an issue that should trigger a political dispute, but we want a solution,” says Fabianshire, the leader of the CDU parliamentary group on the council.

“Shame at the beginning of the first cycle”

The issue has not been addressed only in Essen since yesterday: already in March the SPD presented the problem to the committees for the well-being of young people and the school. Menstruation is still a taboo subject in the public space, laments SPD counselor Julia Klewin, who herself works as a teacher at the Gustav Heinemann Comprehensive School in Schonnebeck. Since menstruation is not a problem like any other, “young women often face the onset of periods with a sense of shame.”

Practical help in daily school life was often provided by secretaries who secretly handed a sanitary napkin or sanitary napkin over the counter; even among female students of the same age, the request for a hygiene item is often only timidly formulated behind closed doors. “The public, visible and free provision of menstrual items,” concludes Julia Klewin, “is an important step in putting menstruation in the public eye and giving it more acceptance in everyday life.”

Major concerns: costs and risk of vandalism

Some municipalities have already set up their first vending machines – in Essen they want to benefit from this knowledge: “It is definitely advisable to acquire the experiences of the cities before designing the concepts yourself,” says Fabian Shrink. The biggest counter-arguments so far have been: costs and the risk of vandalism. It is to be feared, it is said and rumored, that an uncontrolled supply of monthly hygiene items will result in only one thing: clogged toilets and sinks.

This concern cannot be dismissed a priori; Quite a few schools have banned toilet paper from the toilets themselves and only distribute a limited amount of paper to children and young people, personally by the caretaker, in order to maintain control. “The delivery of hygiene products”, says Fabianshire, “is certainly one of the deciding factors that determine the success of the project.” students must first give them the chip.

Vending machines shouldn’t just be installed in schools

Julia Klewin of the SPD points out that it is also about eliminating social imbalances: not all families adequately cope with the onset of their daughters’ menstruation, also due to lack of money. The teacher and politician she says she has heard stories in the past of girls who, surprised since the beginning of the cycle, tried to get away with shreds of cloth. “It is equally important that the products are made available for free,” says Julia Klewin.

Incidentally, the SPD, which took the matter to the political committees, doesn’t just want machines installed in schools. Youth centers, citizen registration offices and other public institutions are also considered, wherever women, mostly young people, are located.

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