Free tampons and sanitary towels

Free tampons and sanitary towels

Feminists of Maastricht pay for menstrual products

24-11-2021 · News

MAASTRICHT. You suddenly get your period and have no money on you to buy tampons or sanitary towels? They are now available free of charge at almost all faculties in a number of toilets. Student group Feminists of Maastricht (FoM) will pay for a one-year trial with the Diversity and Inclusivity Grant which they won this year.

In Randwyck, there are already hygiene products in cupboards that have been put in place especially for this purpose. On the other side of the river, only the School of Business and Economics (SBE) still has to instal them. The student fraction of the faculty council asked for them during their latest council meeting. It is most likely that they will be installed, because responded positively. “We are now working on it”, SBE director Pien Versteegh says later when asked. The university libraries have also agreed to participate.

Bloody Serious, FoM’s committee leading this project, wants to put an end to menstruation poverty by offering the products free of charge: when women don’t have enough money to buy tampons and sanitary towels. The free products lead to a more “inclusive environment”, the group writes in a reaction. “Because it would grant equal access to these resources.”

In addition, they want to reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation – that it is embarrassing and unclean. Visibility of the selected toilets – see Instagram (@bloodyserious_um) for the exact locations – helps with that, but as well as that, Bloody Serious is going to organise a series of workshops and discussions on the subject next year. If the trial turns out to be a success after a year, the feminists hope that the UM will continue the project. 

Author: Yuri Meesen

Photo: Cliff Booth via Pexels

Tags: Feminists of Maastricht,free menstruation products


Jarod S.

Yuri Meesen, Observant,

There were many comments and communications explaining why the article on the menstrual products initiative was problematic.

I will add that fundamentally, the article was bad, bad journalism. Under the cover of freedom of speech, and influenced by your biases and opinion, you presented your own highly inaccurate and distorted report of the initiative. When it was brought to your attention, thereby giving you an opportunity to improve the article by portraying the project accurately and and conveying its essence, you refused to do so.

You have the freedom to disagree on whatever you want, but as this is a newspaper, not a blog, you should reconsider your reporting and ensure that the object of your article - here the menstrual products project - is being rightfully presented, not inappropriately misrepresented.

Please do better next time,


Clara Roca

Period products aren't only for women, they are for anyone with a period.

Cata Schlienger

Hi there! That's great news, thank you for reporting about it! However, if you are already writing about inclusivity, it would be great if you used "people who menstruate" instead of just referring to women :)


Hey, great that you help making FOM's work more visible! But side note: not only women menstruate, so you should change the wording to be more inclusive. Because language matters 👍

Maire Sauerbrei

Dear Observant Staff.
I was reading through this article and noticed several things that seriously bothered me.
The first thing that I noticed is that you write specifically about reducing the stigma surrounding menstruation but still use terminology like “hygiene products” and “sanitary towels” which implies that there is something to be “cleaned,” something that is “dirty”. Other, neutral terminology exists, such as “menstrual products.” I would suggest changing this phrasing because language is important and the way we use it reveals how we think about issues and shapes how other people think about them. As a university newspaper, you have a responsibility to ensure that the articles you publish do not cause avoidable harm. The language that this article uses reinforces stigma.
The way this article repeatedly brings up period poverty seems also problematic. Of course, ending period poverty is an important part of providing menstrual products, however, when looking at the bloodyserious Instagram page it is very clear that their mission goes beyond this. Menstrual products should be provided because people who menstruate need them. Repeatedly bringing up poverty creates a narrative that highlights those who are actually unable to buy menstrual products and frames them as implicitly “dirty,” because of the connotations put on menstrual products using alternate terminology. This savior narrative is harmful and inaccurate.
There is one more important issue that I had with this article: the fact that it is clearly transphobic. The article states that this campaign is aimed at helping women. This is simply wrong. The campaign aims to support people who menstruate, a category that does not include all women and does not only include women. I would have loved to give your newspaper the benefit of the doubt in this area, however, since I am involved in feminist organizations in Maastricht, I am aware that bloodyserious already addressed this issue prior to publishing and has been in contact with you since.
As a feminist, activist, queer person, and student of UM I am extremely disappointed in the standards for publishing the Observant has proven it follows. As a woman, I do not feel represented by this article, as a feminist, I feel undermined, because this article perpetuates stigma, as a student I do not feel like the Observant is amplifying the voice of bloodyserious, and as a queer person, I am enraged that yet again, transgender people are marginalized and erased.
I sincerely hope that the Observant will consider reviewing this article and changing the terminology and framing.
Kind regards.


you only referred to the products as for women, which is actually not correct. Not only women menstruate and this article thus does not reflect what the project is about.
It'd be nice if you either changed the wording or take down the article. Language matters for inclusion and as a student at an inclusive university, I believe this to be important, particularly in these times of change.

Kind regards

A. V

Not only women menstruate! We have a voice and a body and we should be cared for as well!

Isabella Barale

Dear Observant and Yuri Meesen,

The nature of this article is discussed in a very problematic way as you always refer to women. However, women are not the only people that can menstruate; many people that do not identify with womanhood can still have periods. By using the word "women" instead of "people who menstruate" or "people with periods", you are alienating and excluding trans men, non-binary people, intersex people, gender non-conforming people, agender people, genderfluid people, and anybody that doesn't identify as a woman. Your narrative is alienating to all these identities and is extremely discriminatory.

This article is not using an inclusive narrative and it is blatantly transphobic.


You mean people who menstruate. Not all woman menstruate and not everyone who mentruates are woman. Keep that in mind next time your write an article. :)


Once again, I have to express my strong disappointment in this piece of writing that is a good example of bad journalism. These products are not for "women" and the team is bloody serious about being inclusive and loving to all people who menstruate! You as a newspaper can not decide how people choose to claim or define their bodies and bodily actions. You would never cry wolf about "censoring" fascist use of language, so it is truly baffling how you so miserably fail to understand you are using exclusive and trans- and intersex-hating language. This is by no means a surprise, since you refused to cooperate with the people behind the project, but wished to report from a privileged and power-holding perspective. And let us not talk about the word sanitary and the general ideas behind it. I hope these complaints will help you reconsider the guidance under the current editor and the ethics of social responsibility in journalism.


Women are not the only people who menstruate. This piece does not reflect the intentions of FOM.


Great initiative! My only comment is that not only women menstruate. For example, some trans men do too. It is important to remember to make articles and media more inclusive. ^^

Alex Fletcher

Not only women menstruate. I’m also aware you’ve been told this multiple times. Please be more inclusive in your writing


Great to talk about menstrual products and super helpful initiative, tho it is very very important to say that not only women have their periods and that it would be wrong to say that menstrual products only serve women.

Could you change that? Saying that persons without the means to buy products can get the help from bloody serious for instance!

Thank you

jakob lotta

It’s people who menstruate. Not ONLY cis women. You have been contacted and contorted before. Your ignorance is shameful.

Joia Boode

Great initiative, but not only women menstruate. Make sure that actions done to enhance inclusivity, are actually inclusive.

Mia Schneider

Dear Yuri,
I feel that your article probably twists the words of what Bloody serious said. You talk about reducing the stigma surrounding menstruation, using words like embarrassing or unclean, which are extremely unnecessary. Also there being menstrual products available in the faculties that are free has less to do with not having money as it has to do with a free availability for when you don't have a tampon or pad. This article portrays their message in not a very flattering light and not only women menstruate, by stating that only women menstruate you are excluding transgender and non-binary people.

Elena Cassina

I think many things in the language used in this article should be reviewed.
First and foremost not only women menstruate, by saying this you erase the experiences of trans men and non-binary folks who menstruate.
Also the point of free menstrual products is not only to end period poverty (or not exclusively for people who can't afford them), but is so they can be available for free to all who menstruate.
Sanitary towels as a term also conveys the idea that periods are not clean, so then period products is a better term to use.

Nele Fucken

Not all women menstruate. Not all people who
menstruate are women. Denying this reality is
simply anti-feminist and transphobic. Your article
is against everything we fight for.

Bo Couvreur

listen to the people from FOM please and reword it to include everyone who menstuates. Be inclusive por favor!

Zahra Jorissen

you are absolutely missing the point of the organization. People menstruate. I am non-binary and I menstruate.

Diane Ngatchou

Not all women menstruate. Not all people who menstruate are women. Denying this reality is simply anti-feminist and transphobic. Your article is against everything we fight for.

Aicha Bleers


On behalf of feminists of Maastricht I would like to request that you change the verbiage of your article to acknowledge all people who menstruate including those that don’t identify as a woman. Thank you.


Hi Observant!

I wanted to note a few things about the article about free menstrual products. The use of the word 'sanitary towels' reinforces the idea that periods are dirty, and I think no one uses this word. It could easily be replaced by the word 'pads'. Also, not only women get periods. To be inclusive to non-binary and trans people, it could be written as: "when people do not have enough money to buy tampons and pads/menstrual products"

Kind regards,
Luca Smorenburg

Stefana Mitrut


Thank you for this article. I would like to point out that using the word "women" to refer to menstruating people may be limiting to the many gender-diverse students attending UM, who this campaign is also wanting to be inclusive to. I would like to see a change in this article to represent this goal of the Bloody Serious campaign.


Would appreciate if you used 'people who menstruate' instead of women. Thanks


Dear Observant,

I couldn't help but notice that in this article, menstrual products are presented as being beneficiary to women, without any mention of trans or NB people. It might be a good idea to make this article gender neutral, specifically given the ideals of inclusivity of Feminists of Maastricht, but it also is good practice in general to not alienate entire communities.



Hanna Penter

Dear team of the observant,
I wanted to let you know that the use of „women“ as a generalization for people that menstruate is misleading since it excludes trans men, non-binary people as well as intersex people from the group of individuals that could benefit from these sanitary products.
I expect that you are interested in addressing people correctly and will therefore change it to a more appropriate term like „people that menstruate“.


Nice iniciative, but... women? Pretty exclusive

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