Spain’s Catalonia region to provide period products for free at pharmacies

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Catalonia will provide reusable menstrual cups, period pants and pads for free at pharmacies to counter so-called “period poverty”, as the Spanish region follows Scotland with one of the first initiatives of its kind.

The products are due to become available during the first quarter of 2024 and will benefit around 2.5 million girls, women and people who identify as non-binary or transgender who have periods, the regional government said on Thursday.

Period poverty – limited access to products to collect menstrual blood, often because of their cost, lack of washing facilities and education – can lead to missed school or work, and heightens the risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome.

“In an international context of questioning and regression of sexual and reproductive rights, we not only defend these rights… but we also redouble our commitment by introducing new ones such as the right to menstrual equality,” said the head of Catalonia’s equality and feminism department, Tania Verge.

The pharmacies will be responsible for distributing the products and offering personalised advice.

As well as guaranteeing menstrual equality, the measure aims to promote the use of reusable products and cut down the more than 9,000 tons of waste generated each year in Catalonia from used disposable tampons and sanitary pads.

Spain passed a law last year stipulating that menstrual products must be distributed for free at schools, prisons, women’s health care facilities and other public institutions.

However, this is the first time it will be a universal measure.

Scotland became the first country in the world in 2020 to offer free sanitary products.

(Reporting by Joan Faus and Emma Pinedo; Editing by David Latona, Alexandra Hudson)