Vienna continues the “Red Box” campaign

Girls and women in need of support will receive menstrual products free of charge


In recent years, the topic of gender equality and access to basic needs, such as menstrual hygiene products, has finally become the subject of social and political debate. One step towards normalising the topic is the introduction of free sanitary pads in public places. It is an initiative that has had a huge impact on the lives of menstruating people and represents a breakthrough moment in building a fairer society. In Poland, nearly 1 in 5 Polish women cannot afford to buy proper menstrual products. That is why grassroots initiatives are being set up in many cities across the country to make menstrual products available and thus tackle menstrual poverty.

Providing access to free hygiene items is a public health and social equity issue. Our western neighbours are working to provide free packs of sanitary pads or tampons to those in need.

The “Red Box” campaign continues in the Austrian capital. Girls and women receive free products on presentation of a special coupon booklet.

On average, a woman needs 17,000 tampons and sanitary pads in her lifetime. This costs up to 3,000 EUR and for many this is a financial burden. The Red Box project aims to counteract menstrual poverty. “No woman or girl should have to face the question of whether she can afford tampons and sanitary pads,” said City Councillor for Women Kathrin Gaal (SPÖ).

A project that guarantees menstruating people a pack of sanitary pads or tampons free of charge has already been tested in Brigittenau, a vibrant multicultural district in Vienna. Around 180,000 tampons and sanitary pads have been distributed at the four locations. In the future, however, vouchers will be required for menstrual products, which will be available to those in need of support. They will be available for collection at youth centres and marketplaces and then exchanged at branches of the designated drugstore chain.

Free sanitary pads in public places is not only a hygiene issue, but also a step towards greater gender equality. It is an initiative that not only helps to ensure access to basic needs, but also shapes a society that is more aware and understanding towards the needs of all its members, regardless of gender.