In March 2023, France's Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, announced that starting in 2024 the country would begin reimbursing the cost of reusable menstrual products for women aged 25 and under. This move aims to combat period poverty and ensure that young women have access to necessary menstrual hygiene products. The reimbursement will apply to sustainable period products such as menstrual cups and reusable pads, and these products will need to be purchased in pharmacies to be eligible for reimbursement. The cost will be covered by French social security, similar to how prescriptions are currently managed.
This initiative builds on France's ongoing efforts to address period poverty. In recent years, France allocated increasing budgets towards this cause, including providing free menstrual products for female students in university residences and university health services. The country has also reduced the VAT on sanitary pads from 20% to 5.5% in 2015 and allocated €5 million in 2020 to combat menstrual insecurity.
France's action aligns with a global trend towards menstrual equity. For example, Scotland has been providing free sanitary products to all women since August 2022. Similarly, in New York City, there have been comprehensive efforts to expand access to menstrual products in city facilities. Additionally, Canada introduced a regulation in December 2023 requiring federally-regulated employers to provide free menstrual products to their employees.
Stateside, some cities like NYC have implemented free menstrual products for students, even going so far as to ensure that documentation uses inclusive language rather than the legacy 'feminine hygiene' terminology.