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March 26, 2018 | by  | in News Splash |
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Subsidised Menstrual Cups for VUW Students

VUWSA has partnered with Victoria University and Wā Collective to provide subsidised menstrual cups to students again this year, after running a successful campaign in 2017. Period poverty is a barrier to education, and this service aims to reduce that.

A full price menstrual cup sold through Wā Collective costs $49, with cups being subsidised to $15 for students. Cups can be ordered online through Wā’s website, and then delivered to campus for pick up.

Menstrual cups are flexible silicon cups that fit inside your body collecting menstrual fluid. They provide a cost-saving and eco-alternative to pads and tampons, which simply absorb the fluid and cannot be reused.  A menstrual cup is reusable and can last for up to ten years.Screenshot 2018-03-25 14.18.16

Image: A happy menstrual cup

As well as partnering with Wā Collective, VUWSA has also negotiated for free pads and tampons to be available through the hardship fund (part of the Student Services Levy). Funding is distributed on a yearly basis.

While the Wā cups need to be ordered online, the tampons and ads operate on a “no questions asked, take what you need” basis, according to Beth Paterson, VUWSA’s Welfare Vice President. They are available at all three Victoria University campuses.

Wā Collective was founded by Olie Body a year ago, upon seeing free condoms being given out at Massey, where she was a student.

“I thought, ‘That’s cool, they need to be there, but why on earth isn’t there a bowl of menstrual products right beside that?’ Because sex is a choice and menstruation isn’t.’”

Body conducted a survey through Vic Deals in September 2017, finding that one in three menstruating students have skipped class due to the inaccessibility of menstrual products. This much touted figure is at the heart of Wā Collective’s mission. “It shouldn’t be like that. Not here. Not anywhere,” said Body.

As a social enterprise, Wā Collective aims for 50% of their products to be bought at full price in order to subsidise cups for students. Through their advertising, characterized by cheeky puns, Body hopes to continue conversations reduce the taboo around menstruation.

Body also wants to work towards removing the luxury tax on menstrual products. “If we can keep on pushing that, I think we can get there, because it’s really important we do,” she said.  

Vita Molyneux, English Literature and Media Studies student at Victoria, said that “there definitely have been times when [my period] has impacted […] my daily life”. She mostly used the free products out of convenience; she now uses a cup and finds that much easier.

Olivia Philip, film student at Victoria, said she was “gutted” that the “economically and environmentally friendly” cup did not work for her.

“Realising I’m at the grocery store to buy milk and bread and that I also have no tampons or liners and I’ve only got eleven dollars has been one of the low points in my life,” she said.

Both Molyneux and Philip found out about the service through advertising on Facebook, as well as word of mouth through friends. Many students do not know about it, yet, and Paterson said “that it could be more publicly advertised”.

For more information, you can visit Wā Collective’s website (wacollective.org.nz) or talk to Beth Paterson in the VUWSA office.

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