To tackle the problem that officials called “period poverty,” the Seoul Metropolitan Government recently launched a program that will give out free sanitary products to women around South Korea’s capital city.
The program, which is part of the city’s newly revised Gender Equality Basic Ordinance, was launched on October 8, Monday, according to its official press release.
So far, the free dispenser program has only been made available on 10 different public facilities in Seoul, which includes the Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul Women’s Plaza, Jungbu Women’s Development Center, Taehwa Christian Community Center, Seoul Metropolitan Library, Seoul Museum of History, Seoul Science Center, Buk Seoul Museum of Art, Gwangjin Youth Center, and Guro Youth Center.
The issue of “period poverty” came into the officials’ attention after a number of women’s rights activists demanded a program that will help bring proper sanitary products to women who live in a low-income family households.
A report back in 2016 served as an example of how some young women from low-income families often use shoe insoles when they have their periods as they cannot afford to buy sanitary products, Korea Herald reported.
Before launching the program, the Seoul Metropolitan Government reportedly surveyed around 1,400 Seoul residents about the issue, and 92% of the residents agree that feminine products like tampons and pad should be free as they are a basic necessities for women.
“We’ll figure out the number of daily usage (of the products) at the facilities during this period,” an official said as the Seoul Metropolitan Government guarantees that all opinions from the survey will be taken into account for the duration of this pilot program. “We plan to eventually expand this service next year, and what we learn and find out during the pilot period will all be put to use.”
So far there are two types of dispenser that are available in all 10 places around Seoul, a free one and a free coin dispenser.
According to the press release, the free dispenser can provide female sanitary products just by pulling the lever, while the free coin one would require a coin that can be acquired from the Information Desk of the establishment. This coin would then be used to dispense sanitary products.