Following the example of other public institutions, the University of Bremen now also provides tampons and sanitary pads free of charge. The period product dispensers, or “TUBS” for short, are available as of now in four restrooms initially. Three students launched the initiative.
In Scotland, the concept has been around for some time: In October 2020, the Period Products Act passed into law, obliging public institutions to provide tampons and sanitary pads free of charge. The idea was well received in Germany, too: The Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and the University of Bonn, for instance, have already started providing period products free of charge. On the initiative of three students, there are now four TUBS at the University of Bremen also.
From Idea to Implementation
Helene, Lisa, and Hannah launched the initiative. They are the three elected representatives of the Autonomous Feminist Unit of the AStA Students’ Union at the University of Bremen. In 2022, they made a proposal to the Central Commission for Women’s Issues to acquire the period product dispensers. In 2023, an official application followed, which received widespread support from members of the university. The service is funded by the university. The Family Care Office took on responsibility for implementation.
Breaking a Taboo
“Menstruation is an issue that affects about 50 percent of the population all over the world. It affects students, staff, and visitors to the University of Bremen,” say the initiators. “When being on campus, they should not be at a disadvantage, and therefore products that are essential for hygiene should be available free of charge. Tampons and sanitary pads are just as much a part of menstruation hygiene as soap and toilet paper.” With the TUBS initiative, the students also want to ensure that menstruation will no longer be a taboo. “This taboo prevents many people from talking freely about their symptoms and problems such as period poverty,” they continue. Students are particularly affected by period poverty. They often have little money to spend and are further burdened by having to buy expensive period products. With the new TUBS facility, the university is contributing to social sustainability: The dispensers allow free access to period products for those who need them and thus enables them to participate in campus life, regardless of their financial situation.
Period Product Dispensers in Men’s Restrooms
One particular concern of the initiators was to install the TUBS in men’s restrooms as well, so that affected transgender persons also have access to the free products. “It would be great if there were gender-neutral restrooms everywhere. To facilitate a non-discriminatory environment, installing TUBS in men’s restrooms is also important,” they explain.
The tampons and sanitary pads are intended for immediate use. To ensure that as many students as possible can take advantage of the free service, please only take as many period products as you need at that point.
You can find the period product dispensers at the following locations: Ladies’ restroom in the State and University Library, ladies’ restroom in the Mensa cafeteria on the University Boulevard, ladies’ and men’s restrooms in GW2 Building near the Room and Multimedia Scheduling Office. The campus map gives an overview of all buildings on campus (in German only).