Ecuador prepares a law on free access to feminine hygiene products

The Right to Health Commission of the National Assembly of Ecuador is finalizing the text of the Menstrual Health and Hygiene Law that could include a “menstrual leave” for incapacity and free access to feminine hygiene products.

The Commission has summoned women’s groups and experts in the field who have defended the need for these measures for menstruating girls and women due to the risk of diseases and collateral discomfort, according to the Ecuadorian newspaper ‘El Universo’.

They have also advocated the promotion of menstrual education in all educational institutions and that it be extended to families, particularly in rural areas. They have also mentioned access to water as an urgent need to ensure a “dignified menstruation”.

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According to a U-Report survey of 3,600 interviews with adolescents and young women in 23 Ecuadorian provinces, 25 percent said they stopped using menstrual management products due to lack of money because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and 27 percent say that despite feeling pain from their menstrual period, they were unable to purchase medication.

92 percent consider free menstrual hygiene products important and are in favor of educational institutions and health centers providing free menstrual pads, tampons and other menstrual management items.

The survey has further revealed that 44 percent of the population does not have access to toilet paper in the bathrooms of their educational institutions, while 58 percent mention that their school does not have adequate facilities for changing in a safe and private environment and that they also do not have an adequate place to dispose of used supplies or to sanitize reusable supplies.

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Thus, 31 percent of respondents have missed school because of menstruation, mainly due to pain (37 percent) and fear of staining clothes (31 percent). More than half (55 percent) say that in their school they have not received specific classes or workshops on this subject.

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