27. April 2022

Pilot Phase Launched: Tampons and Sanitary Pads in Campus Toilets Pilot Phase Launched: Tampons and Sanitary Pads in Campus Toilets

The University of Bonn has become one of the first universities in North Rhine-Westphalia to provide free period products to its students.

The University of Bonn has installed free period product dispensers at seven locations in an effort to make essential hygiene products accessible to all and help destroy the taboo surrounding menstruation. The project is the brainchild of the General Students’ Committee, while the pilot phase is being organized and funded by the Vice Rectorate for Equal Opportunities and Diversity.

Dispensers - These dispensers have been installed in seven washrooms across the campus and contain free tampons and sanitary pads. Each dispenser features a QR code with a link to the online survey. © Barbara Frommann/Uni Bonn
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The aim is to eliminate financial and social inequality for period products. Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster, Vice Rector for Equal Opportunities and Diversity, says: “The representatives from the General Students’ Committee are highly committed to this project. It’s a fantastic idea, and I’m delighted that, with it, we’re making a really tangible contribution to improving equal opportunity. Offering free period products is a very practical way to combat period poverty and reduce social injustice.”

The people behind the project firmly believe that free period products are another small but very important step toward equal opportunity and educational justice. This measure is intended to make life at the University easier for students during their period. This will be helped, the organizers hope, by the fact that period products will be available at the University too and that menstruation need not be a barrier.

After all, purchasing hygiene products is an additional cost factor for students who menstruate. “If you can’t afford it, you’ll stay at home instead of taking your courses,” explains Jonathan Andraczek, former chairperson of the General Students’ Committee. “Period products enable students to be a part of everyday life at the University. This is why we’re committed to making these hygiene items available for free as a sign of participation and equal opportunity,” Andraczek says.

Following the initial suggestion from the General Students’ Committee, it was not long before university management had given its approval and a concept for the pilot phase had been drawn up together. The pandemic and the resulting cancellation of in-person events prompted the Vice Rectorate and the General Students’ Committee to launch the project in the summer semester. And now the trial period can finally get under way. Andraczek sums up the situation: “We’re delighted that the Rectorate and the Vice Rectorate for Equal Opportunities and Diversity embraced our idea so enthusiastically. That sends out an important signal from the University. By breaking down the taboo associated with menstruation, we’re promoting the equality of women and people who menstruate.”

Pilot phase to determine permanent implementation

The project is starting life as a pilot phase during the summer semester, during which time the University of Bonn will be monitoring feedback about the provision of free hygiene products. “The test phase will give us information on demand and help us to gauge the costs,” Vice Rector Förster adds. She is keen for people to treat the period products with respect: “We would explicitly ask students to only take what they really need and use the dispensers judiciously.” The period products that they contain are made from sustainable materials.

Students can now share their thoughts on the project in an online survey. Depending on the results and the response rate, more toilets may be fitted with dispensers and, where possible, the period products will become standard hygiene products—just like toilet paper and paper towels.

The dispensers containing the period products are located in the vestibules of the ladies’ toilets and will be topped up on a regular basis. However, should you ever find one empty, the University will be happy to be notified by email, which you can do simply by following the FAQs on the website. “Going forward, we also want to offer the period products inside other toilets, because we also have male students who menstruate, although we don’t know their exact needs. Here too, we’re hoping a lot of people take our survey so that we can get more information,” Andraczek says.

Scotland blazing a trail

The issue of free period products has been a topic of debate both in Germany and abroad. In November 2020, the Scottish Parliament passed a law requiring public institutions to make tampons and sanitary pads available free of charge. Since then, there have been similar initiatives and debates in Germany about providing free period products. Some universities, such as Potsdam, Stuttgart and Passau already offer free period products in their toilets. Like at the University of Bonn, the projects in Stuttgart and Passau are pilots.


Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster
Vice Rector for Equal Opportunities and Diversity
Tel. +49 228 73 5886

Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster and Jonathan Andraczek
Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster and Jonathan Andraczek - Responsible for getting the project off the ground at the University: Jonathan Andraczek, former chairperson of the General Students’ Committee, and Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster, Vice Rector for Equal Opportunities and Diversity. © Barbara Frommann/Uni Bonn
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