1. From today, all women in Catalonia can go to the nearest pharmacy to receive specialised advice and choose the product they prefer by exchanging the QR code found in the La Meva Salut [My Health] application.
  2. The distribution started today by the Government makes Catalonia the first country in the world to distribute reusable menstrual products free of charge.
  3. The personalised information and advice provided by nearly 3,300 pharmacies in Catalonia is key to promoting the use of these products and fostering public knowledge about the menstrual cycle.

All women in Catalonia can now go to the nearest pharmacy to request menstrual panties, a cup or two cloth pads and receive specialised advice. The Ministry of Equality and Feminisms and the Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges of Catalonia (CCFC) today started the free and universal distribution of reusable menstrual products. This action is included in the Comprehensive Menstrual and Climacteric Equity Plan 2023-2025. "Today, Catalonia becomes the first country in the world to distribute, universally and free of charge, reusable menstrual products accompanied by quality information and advice from pharmacies", the Minister of Equality and Feminisms, Tània Verge Mestre, highlighted at the beginning of her speech.

This is an unprecedented measure in the world that guarantees the right to menstrual equity. In other words, ensuring access to reusable menstrual products for all women in Catalonia, as well as receiving quality information and support. "The fact that this initiative comes into operation in the week of 8 March is no coincidence. For many decades, sexual and reproductive rights have been at the centre of the feminist struggle on a global scale. The right to one's own body is the most essential right of all" said Verge, who also highlighted the historical importance of this right, "precisely, because the right to one's body is as personal as it is political, it must be at the centre of the political agenda. And because we cannot forget that sexual and reproductive rights are human rights, as the international community already recognized in the nineties".

My period, my rules will also break the myths and taboos about menstruation that affect women's well-being and health, end menstrual poverty, generate savings for women and families and take care of the planet with sustainable and reusable products. "I want to emphasise that it is a universal measure because it addresses a right that all women have: the right to menstrual equity. A right that can already be exercised in Catalonia and makes us a fairer country" added the minister.

The Minister of Equality and Feminisms visited a pharmacy today to see first-hand how the first distribution day was going, and she did so accompanied by the president of the Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges of Catalonia (CCFC) and the College of Pharmacists of Barcelona (COFB), Jordi Casas Sánchez.

"It is guaranteed that all women and menstruating people in Catalonia will have access to their reusable menstrual product through the more than 3,280 Catalan pharmacies. Therefore, we convey to the population a message of peace of mind, and we urge them to come and order the products stepwise. Once users place the order, if the product is not available, within a maximum period of 48 hours they can pick it up at the same pharmacy", explained the president of the CCFC and the COFB.

Access to products through pharmacies

Pharmacies are the space where reusable menstrual products are distributed free of charge: a menstrual cup, menstrual panties or a pack of two cloth pads to all those girls, women and menstruating people who request it. The action, like all of the Comprehensive Menstrual and Climacteric Equity Plan within which it is framed, has a trans-inclusive approach and therefore also addresses menstruating trans* men and non-binary people.

The nearly 3,300 pharmacies in Catalonia have joined the action and will be easily identifiable thanks to a badge. Simultaneous distribution throughout the territory guarantees that all women in Catalonia, wherever they live, are guaranteed such a key fundamental right as being able to decide about their own body, as well as having menstrual education and information throughout the life cycle, which is essential to be able to make free and informed decisions.

To obtain the product of their preference, the interested party only has to present the individual and non-transferable QR code, which they will obtain through the section Novetats: La meva regla, les meves regles (New developments: My period, my rules) of the digital health space La Meva Salut (My Health) (both via the website and via a mobile application). It is important to bear in mind that, if using the mobile phone application, it must be updated. In the event that, despite this, the QR code does not appear, a form has been provided in the same application to request it.

When they dispense the product, pharmaceutical professionals will explain which menstrual products are distributed and will assist the customer in choosing the product that best suits each person's needs, generating a space of trust where they can express themselves and share queries and concerns. This is why it is recommended to go to the pharmacy in advance, in order to choose the product after receiving all the information and specialized advice.

The dispensing of the product will be immediate, provided that the pharmacy has units of the chosen product available. If this is not the case, it can be ordered, as is usually done with other products and medicines, and will be available no later than 48 hours. However, it is important to bear in mind that if a person has already reserved a product at the pharmacy, their QR code will be temporarily blocked until they go to pick it up at the same pharmacy where they ordered it.

The QR code will be active in the La Meva Salut space until the product has been ordered from the pharmacy, and once the product has been dispensed it will be deactivated.

Specialised information and advice

Pharmacies are responsible for distributing the products and for offering personalised advice and quality information at the time of collection. To do this, more than 11,600 pharmacists from all over Catalonia have received training in recent months on sexual and reproductive rights and, more specifically, on menstrual equity and the use of reusable menstrual products, organised by the Ministry of Equality and Feminisms with the Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges of Catalonia (CCFC).

Reinforcing the skills of pharmaceutical staff when offering information on the menstrual cycle, and supporting them in the choice of products, are crucial to promote public knowledge about one’s own body and menstrual cycle, as well as helping to eradicate the stigma associated with menstruating and the myths and taboos that can have serious consequences on women's health. In addition, personalised information and advice from pharmacies is essential to promote the use of these products and ensure they are used correctly, especially for people who use them for the first time. However, in order to be able to respond to the queries that general public may have regarding the distribution of reusable menstrual products, two specific lines of communication have been set up: the 061 Salut Respond telephone line, and the sub-topic 'Menstrual equity' of the Gestor de consultes, queixes i suggeriments (Portal of queries, complaints and suggestions) of the Government of Catalonia.

Right to menstrual equity: Social, climacteric and gender justice

According to the survey by the Omnibus Opinion Studies Centre of the Government of Catalonia (2023), the majority of people who have participated believe that there is not enough discussion about menstruation, whether in public spaces, schools, health centres or in the media. In the case of climacteric syndrome, this invisibility is even more pronounced according to the opinion of 71% of the women surveyed. In fact, there is still a lot of ignorance about menstruation: 42% of men and 38% of women do not know how to answer the question correctly: "Do you know what the menstrual cycle is?" and only 47% of women and 23% of men think they know enough about it. These percentages are even higher when we talk about climacteric issues and menopause, since socially, menstruation and menopause have been treated with silence and shame. This situation prevents us from understanding our body and attending to its needs.

In Catalonia, the difficulty of accessing menstrual products for financial reasons is a reality: 44% of women who have responded to the survey and have menstruation have used products that were not their first choice because they were too expensive, and 23% of women have had to reuse single-use products for financial reasons. Throughout one's life, a person who uses non-reusable pads and tampons spends €2,500, and if, for example, they choose to use the cup, the cost throughout their fertile life is reduced to approximately €145.

Reusable menstrual products also contribute to climate justice, preventing the production of waste and helping to prevent climate change. In Catalonia, around 9,000 tons of non-reusable menstrual products are produced each year, in other words, 750 million tampons and single-use pads become waste that is not recyclable. In addition, producing them causes severe environmental impacts such as a large expenditure of water and energy and the use of large volumes of cellulose, cotton or viscous rayon.

In short, the lack of truthful information about what menstruation or menopause is, discrimination and prejudice surrounding these processes, and the difficulty of accessing menstrual products suitable for each person are violations of sexual and reproductive rights. The action “My period, my rules” is therefore crucial; it seeks to bring reusable menstrual products and quality information to every household in Catalonia.

The free distribution of reusable menstrual products is part of the Comprehensive Menstrual and Climacteric Equity Plan 2023-2025, promoted by the Ministry of Equality and Feminisms with the participation of all departments and ministries of the Government of Catalonia. The plan contains sixty measures and proposes actions in seven areas of work: menstrual education in childhood, adolescence and youth; menstrual education in the field of socio-community intervention; accessibility to suitable products and spaces such as the universal distribution of reusable products and the installation of organic menstrual product dispensers in public facilities and services; measures in the workplace; the training of professionals; the promotion of research and knowledge, and dissemination and awareness-raising.

It is an action plan that is part of the implementation of the National Strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, which goes further in terms recognised rights and introduces new ones, such as the right to menstrual equity.



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