Having a menstruation-related emergency or finding yourself running short on tampons or pads is not uncommon for most menstruators. Many of us have probably had these or similar experiences; running to a nearby friend or shop to see if there is any way that someone could spare a product. Instead of texting friends or having awkward conversations with strangers, what if all you needed was a phone to find out where you could get period products in your local area?
In January, a small group of young women from Amsterdam reached out to The Dot Org in hopes of uniting our respective organizations under the united mission to eliminate period poverty. During our (virtual) meeting, these women, who have since officially launched their brand as Periodic, explained one of their projects called the MenstruMap. This map, which acts as a filter over Google Maps, shows exact locations of businesses in a given city that provide free period products in their bathrooms. MenstruMap is also interactive, allowing anyone from the general public to submit the name and location of a business that they know provides free period products in their restrooms. Inspired by a project her brother was involved in, Annika, the woman behind this idea, met with me to discuss how she came about this idea and brought it to fruition with her team.
The MenstruMap provides obvious benefits to people who are in need of menstrual products or experience an unexpected emergency when in public. However, the main question Annika and her team wrestled with was how to keep businesses motivated to keep products in their bathrooms. Many owners cited cost and supply issues as the main deterrents from supplying their bathrooms with products. As the MenstruMap was created off of Google Maps, Annika believes that the free publicity and showcase as a business contributing to menstrual equality that comes from being on the MenstruMap will keep businesses motivated to continue supplying pads and tampons in their bathrooms.
The concept for the MenstruMap proposes a symbiotic relationship between the customers and the owners. Businesses receive a free boost in advertising and will be recognized for being a part of the Periodic movement. Furthermore, the contributions of independent establishments will accumulate to help thousands of people who experience period poverty. At the end of our meeting, Annika described her future hopes for the MenstruMap to become a part of the international fight against period poverty. While the MenstruMap is mainly focused in Amsterdam for right now, the MenstruMap has the potential to spread across the world with so many cities and countries working together to help make period products more accessible (just like Ann Arbor).
Periodic Website: https://www.periodic.nl/home
Periodic Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/periodic.nl/