France promises €5 million to fight period poverty

The French government has vowed to step up its game to tackle the 'taboo' of period poverty, which affects some 2 million women in France.

France promises €5 million to fight period poverty
Paris city councillor and member of the French left-wing Parti de Gauche (PG) Danielle Simonnet shows a tampon during a meeting to mark International Women's Day. Photo: AFP

An additional €4 million would be piled onto the €1 million already voted into the budget for 2021, the government said.

Health Minister Olivier Véran and Equality Minister Elisabeth Moreno made the announcement on Tuesday, promising women who are living in a 'precarious' situation, whether they be incarcerated, homeless or poor.

“We’re attacking a taboo,” the health minister said in a press statement. “Periods are not a shameful topic.”

Is period poverty a problem in France?

Between 1.5 and 2 million women in France suffer from period poverty, according to the government – when they cannot afford to buy sanitary products during their period.



French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged period poverty as a problem in France during an interview on December 4th with the French web media Brut, which has a large young following, promising “a very concrete” plan to fight it.

“When you see women in very precarious situations on the street, they suffer from all the things as men,” the president told Brut, “but they also suffer from . . having their periods in the street and from not being able to buy what they need to protect themselves and be dignified during the day.”

A live stream interview of French President Emmanuel Macron to the digital news platform Brut on December 4th. Photo: AFP

Macron's interview came after Scotland on November 24th became the first country in the world to vote through a bill giving women access to free tampons and menstrual pads.

Where will France spend the money?

The French government will use the money strengthen the work done by aid organisations, which work directly with distributing menstrual protection to homeless women, in prisons and in secondary schools and high schools known to host pupils living in a precarious situation.

According to the press statement, the change of scale in the budget dedicated to period poverty “will be perpetuated in the budget of social ministries in the years to come”.



Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.