AUC-based feminist collective and women’s empowerment initiative, Heya has just started a new project that is blowing our mind and restoring our faith in the youth of today. In a move that is the first of its kind in the whole country, they are planning to install sanitary pad dispensers in AUC’s bathrooms to help the female student body with that special monthly visitor. Menstruation is somewhat of a taboo issue in Egypt and always on the hush-hush, even though half the country’s population would seriously benefit from sanitary pad dispensers, not just in AUC but all over the land.

The project was proposed last year in a much more elaborate form when Heya requested an increase in their budget so they could buy a large (and very expensive) sanitary pad vending machine. Their request was not approved by the AUC Budget Committee, so they went back to the drawing board, and, this year, under new management, the project has taken a much simpler form.

Although another request for the budget increase has been filed this year and is set to be approved or rejected in a couple of weeks, the group has forged ahead with a new and much more thrifty plan. Heya have commissioned their own vending machine, to be made locally and cheaply. Not really a vending machine, but rather two boxes, one with pads and one with money.While the fancy vending machine ordered last year would have worked in the way that you’d expect, i.e. money-in-pad-out, this new one will operate entirely on a basis of trust. Students who need a pad can just take one, but Heya is trusting them to place a coin in the adjacent box, so they can keep the project going.

“We will make the boxes ourselves, decorate them ourselves and place them in and around the main areas in AUC. But for it to be sustainable, we will be trusting the students to put a coin or two when they take the pad. If it is to grow and spread around AUC, we will be trusting the students to give us the money,” says Heya VP Youmna Mohie.

The administration has not aided Heya with this project yet, but Mohie explains that they remain hopeful that when the initiative proves successful, the university will see how essential it is, and hopefully help in developing the idea.

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