Menstrual Poverty and Access to Menstrual Products in the EU

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Menstrual Poverty in the EU

Approximately half of the EU population menstruates or will experience menstruation at some point in their lives. However, access to menstrual products is not always guaranteed. While there is no official EU data on the extent of menstrual poverty, Belgian NGO Bruzelle estimates that one in fifteen people in Belgium struggle to afford menstrual products. This often leads individuals to make tough choices between purchasing these essential items or meeting other basic needs like food.

Taxation of Menstrual Products in the EU

Taxation of Menstrual Products in the EU

As of 2022, the EU allows member states to sell menstrual products without value-added tax (VAT). While some countries, like Ireland, have taken advantage of this opportunity, others still impose high taxes on these products. For instance, Hungary maintains a 27% tax rate, while Sweden and Denmark have a 25% tax on menstrual products. Lowering or eliminating taxes on these items can help make them more affordable and accessible to all individuals.

Initiatives to Address Menstrual Poverty

One innovative approach to combat menstrual poverty is the distribution of free menstrual products by governmental bodies. For example, Catalonia has launched a program providing menstrual cups, pads, or period underwear to individuals in need. By offering these essential items at no cost, such initiatives aim to reduce financial barriers and destigmatize menstruation in society.

According to the Catalan government, a significant percentage of women in the region resort to reusing single-use products due to financial constraints, highlighting the urgent need for solutions to address menstrual poverty.

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