Claimed by many feminist associations for years, free hygiene protection will soon be a reality in universities. Tuesday February 23, the Minister of Higher Education, Frédérique Vidal, made the commitment during a meeting, in Poitiers, with students from different unions (Federative Association of Students of Poitiers, FAGE and UNEF). From the start of the 2021 school year, periodic coverage will be free for all students, she promised. “It’s a question of dignity”, she said the day before on RTL.

This announcement comes at a time when, for several months, the Minister has been criticized for her management of the health crisis in the student world, hard hit by precariousness. In recent days, Mme Vidal found herself challenged in academia after her remarks about “Islamo-leftism” at university and her desire to open an investigation on the subject.

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Concretely, the government wants, by the start of the September academic year, to install 1,500 distributors in the university residences of the Crous and in the university health services.

Edifying survey of the FAGE

The initiative was immediately welcomed by the student associations. “This announcement comes to lift a burden on the daily life and the wallet of the students”, reacted Anna Prado de Oliveira, vice-president of FAGE. While the mental health of students is particularly threatened by the health crisis, the FAGE, the Federative Association of Poitiers Students and the National Association of Midwifery Students, have alerted, through a investigation published in February, on the urgency to fight against the precarious menstrual period of students in France. According to the results of this study, conducted among 6,518 students, “33% of respondents believe they need financial assistance to finance their periodic coverage”.

Already in 2020, the alert had been given through an edifying figure: 1.7 million women would be victims of menstrual insecurity in France, according to the association Elementary Rules. Free hygienic protection had therefore been the subject of government experimentation in 2020, in several collective places, to the tune of 1 million euros.

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A year later, the announcement of Mme Vidal provides a concrete answer to the problem of student period insecurity pointed out for the first time by the FAGE through his survey. Indeed, 13% of respondents say they have already had to choose between hygienic protection and another essential item. “We must not forget that 20% of students live below the poverty line”, recalls Anna Prado de Oliveira, referring to the survey carried out in 2015 by the general social affairs inspectorate.

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