Pilot project offers free sanitary products at schools of Latvia

This month, a pilot project is being implemented in two Latvian municipalities – Aizkraukle and Balvi – during which women's hygiene products are provided free of charge to school students. The initiative to introduce free hygiene products in all Latvian schools is being promoted in the country, and the pilot project aims to find out what the approximate amount and cost of necessary products might be, Latvian Radio reported on May 13.

Aizkraukle Municipality High School is one of 25 educational institutions that provide free feminine hygiene products to students this month. The pilot project, which runs until the end of May, has involved 13 schools in Aizkraukle municipality and 12 in Balvi municipality, placing hygienic pads and tampons free-access spaces.

At Aizkraukles Municipality Secondary School, the items are located in one of the girls' toilets – a specially designed box, and the girls believe that they should always be there.

“I myself have experienced such discomfort. The main reason is that sense of shame that very often doesn't leave young people. This is a great chance that you can go on your own, you don't need to go to a teacher to tell your problem or to a school nurse, but you can go and get everything yourself,” said one of the students.

"It often happens that periods unexpectedly appear and I don't know what to do, I had to ask my classmates. It's a bit uncomfortable, I think. You can go to the nurse to ask, of course, but I think it's a little hard when, for example, you're on the third floor and you have to run to the basement and you might not have that much time, maybe white pants, so I think they should develop this project further,” another student said.

Sanita Kuharenko, a nurse at Aizkraukles Municipality High School, stressed that such an initiative is very useful – especially for shy students: “It's pleasing that girls now have this opportunity not to turn to me, for example, even though they did every now and then, but now they have the opportunity to go and take it themselves if they need it.”

The government has potentially promised to implement the idea next year, but the pilot project is taking place with the aim of figuring out what the quantity and cost of products needed could be, as well as the more convenient ways to deliver and deploy. The results will be compiled and submitted to the government in the summer of this year.

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