What is it about?
Menstruation is an issue that affects about half of the population worldwide. At the University of Stuttgart, it affects an estimated 35% of all students. For these students, the use of hygiene products during menstruation is as ubiquitous as the use of toilet paper or soaps and, currently, disinfectants. Nevertheless, menstruating persons have to take care of the supply of these products themselves.
Not all students can afford these products. It is estimated that 7% of menstruating students in Germany suffer from period poverty. This can often lead to illness in the long term, which in turn leads to absences from classes. Another problem that menstruating students suffer from is that menstruation often starts unexpectedly. If this is the case and one does not have sanitary products available at that time, one often has to return home and thus misses out on important teaching and opportunities to participate in education.
 As there is no data of period poverty in Germany, for this estimate the proportion of people affected in the UK (10% of menstruating [source]) was calculated with the ratio of women living in poverty between Germany (16% in 2018 [source]) and the UK (24.3% in 2018 [source]).
Our idea is to provide menstrual products free of cost to affected students. For this purpose, the most common hygiene products in Germany: tampons and pads, are offered in suitable containers in all toilets at the University of Stuttgart. These are replenished by the respective cleaning staff. In order to make the storage on site more attractive, these are to be placed in storage containers for the long term, which can be mounted on the toilets next to the washbasins. Disposal facilities are already available in the toilets for female students, and in the toilets for male students, the general wastepaper baskets can initially also be used for disposal.
We explicitly want to offer period products in the male toilets as well, because male students can menstruate as well! Unfortunately, we don't know how many this affects. With our test phase, however, we hope to find out the need here as well.
The pilot phase
In an initial pilot phase, free menstrual products (5072 tampons & 5076 pads) will be offered in the larger toilets on both the Vaihingen and Stadtmitte campuses for approximately two months from 01.11. to 31.12. We are currently stocking the toilets in order to assess the effort involved in stocking the toilets and the level of consumption. As a transitional measure in this test phase, the menstrual products are initially laid out in simple cartons. This simplifies the implementation of the pilot phase. Currently, stuvus is financing the pilot phase.
We are prolonging our pilot phase until the 31th of May!
Do you have feedback on our test phase?
Then feel free to leave it in our survey.
Toilets where you can find the products:
- Campus Stadtmitte:
- K2 (lower lobby)
- next to M17.02
- Hörsaalprovisorium (also on the men's toilet)
- Mensa Stadtmitte
- Campus Vaihingen
- V9 (lobby)
- V47 (lower lobby)
- V53 (Audimax) (also on the men's toilet)
- V57 (below the lecture halls)
- Mensa Vaihingen
After a successful pilot phase, we would like to extend the project to all toilets. The boxes will then be replaced by more permanent installations, such as the Period.Box of the University of Freiburg. These are easy to fill and still provide safe and professional storage.
This project was initiated by the Department for Equality, Diversity and Social Affairs.
You are also welcome to send us an email: email@example.com
Our sponsors and supporters
The pilot phase is initially funded by stuvus. However, we have also received donations from the following people:
- S. Wach
- Roommate of S.Wach
- Nico Semsrott
Are you interested in more information about this topic?
Then you can find more projects here:
Basically, there are currently efforts to implement free hygiene products at various universities throughout Germany. This open letter was also written in this context.