On 7th October, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, vetoed a bill that would allow free period products to be distributed to young, poverty-stricken students. In Brazil, 1 in 4 girls do not have the correct sanitary protection during their period, which can cause them to miss weeks of vital education.
The bill was initially proposed in September, which would have benefitted over 5 million women, including those that are homeless, imprisoned or of a working-class background. Unfortunately, Bolsonaro claims that there isn’t enough money to provide this service, which, understandably, caused outrage, and #LivreParaMenstruar (free to menstruate) began trending.
There have been a fair few individuals against Bolsonaro’s decision, Espírito Santo’s vice-governor, Jacqueline Moraes, said in a tweet: “Is it ‘a privilege’ for a poor woman to have the right to a tampon? No! It’s social policy, public health!”. Clue, a renowned period tracking app, also tweeted: “Hi Bolsonaro, menstruation isn’t a luxury” and, the Brazil Solidarity Initiative used the hashtag to say that Bolsonaro’s veto is “A clear example of the misogyny entrenched in his administration”.
Many large corporations have offered their support to the protestors who are fighting for the cause, and Bolsonaro is yet to give a response in regards to the protests currently taking place.
Last year, Scotland was the first nation to offer free period products in public spaces, and more recently, New Zealand has raised millions and is beginning to offer schools the same service. With very few places providing free period products, smaller institutions have been offering this service for those who are unable to attain sanitary care.
Here at UEA, the Bloody Good Period Society have set up a “menstruation station” in the library for those in need, as well as a donation bin in the su shop of free menstruation products.