UvA students Lisa, Anna, Lotte and Janneke started a petition because they want menstrual cups to be covered by health insurance companies.
Why did you start the petition?
Lisa Janssen (21, Political Science): ‘We saw women fighting against period poverty during the Women’s March in London. In the United Kingdom, some women can’t afford sanitary towels or tampons, so they can’t go to school or work. It’s strange that nothing is done about this in the Netherlands. Here, there are also 1.4 million families in debts. There is a taboo on poverty and menstruation and we want to change that.’
Why don’t you want tampons – for example – to be covered by basic health insurance?
Lotte Geukes (20, Political Science): ‘One cup lasts for five years. Our proposal is very practical.’
Anna Herter (24, Philosophy and Psychology): ‘Sanitary towels and tampons cost 1.700 euros in a woman’s lifetime. Cups cost less than 250 euros. They are relatively cheap, so easier to be covered by health insurance companies.’
Lisa: ‘It won’t put too much pressure on the insurance companies.’
Are you also trying to encourage a sustainable choice?
Lotte: ‘Yes, we try to introduce people to this alternative.’
Anna: ‘Other menstrual products cause lots of waste. Tampons are made of cotton, which takes lots of water to produce.’
Lotte: ‘But that’s not the only advantage, because our proposal fights poverty and makes boys and girls more equal.’
You’ll need 40,000 signatures to set up a debate in parliament. How are you going to get that far?
Lisa: ‘We are not yet supported by large organizations.’
Anna: ‘We first want some signatures to create an opportunity to tell our story before we approach politics and organizations. We’re working on it. We now try to spread the petition in all possible ways. We already did several interviews and we try to talk about it with everyone to make it clear that it’s not a scary subject to giggle about. We just have to start the conversation.’
Lotte: ‘It’s a great goal to open the discussion.’
Lisa: ‘The ultimate goal is to get the insurance companies to cover the cups, but meanwhile we try to break the taboo.’
What if you won’t have enough signatures?
Anna: ‘This isn’t the only way to put things on the political agenda. Parliament also discussed other initiatives that didn’t get enough signatures.’
Lotte: ‘There are more ways that lead to the menstrual cup.’