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Bill providing free menstrual products for women pushed in Senate

A bill seeking to provide female students and women free access to menstrual products has been filed in the Senate.

in filing Senate Bill 2475, Senator JV Ejercito said that women's rights to accessible and affordable menstrual care products have been neglected for so long.

Under the bill, the Department of Education is mandated to provide free menstrual products to female students while the Department of Health is likewise tasked to provide the same in every Barangay Health Center for its distribution to those who do not have means to buy.

"It is time that we also advocate for the normalization of menstrual health and hygiene needs of menstruators from our country. It is time we prioritize the health of our girls and women by providing free-of-charge menstrual products to public school students and made available in public health centers," Ejercito, vice chairman of Senate health and demography committee, said.

The lawmaker mentioned that the lack of discourse on menstrual health has resulted in discrimination and stigma causing some of young Filipinos to miss school not only due to shame and embarrassment but also due to unaffordability.

"Globally, cultural practices and taboos around menstruation have made great negative impact on the lives of girls and women, thus reinforcing gender inequality and exclusion," he said.

Ejercito cited the World Health Organization's call for the recognition of menstrual health as a health and human rights issue.

The senator explained that when women are given equitable access to safe and free menstrual products, they decrease the risk of infection which have an effect on their sexual and reproductive health, including reducing teenage pregnancy and preventing urinary and reproductive tract infections.

He likewise cited United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund's (UNICEF) statement that on any given day there are 800 million people who are menstruating and yet girls and women in underprivileged communities experience period poverty.

If enacted into law, the Philippines will follow the move of Scotland to make menstrual products free to those who need it.—AOL, GMA Integrated News