Teenage girls from low-income families often have difficulty in taking care of their health despite them being in an important growth phase. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has proposed a set of policies that guarantee their right to gender identity and health as fundamental human rights.
Currently, the SMG provides free welfare services for teenage girls at Seoul Youth Health Center (“I am Spring”), which was first established in 2013 near Hapjeong Station, and operates a pharmacy for adolescents at risk. However, the SMG plans to expand the policies, as there are still several areas in which significant issues remain unaddressed.
■ Seoul Youth Health Center – “I am Spring”
The health center provides medical treatment by specialists in five medical fields, including obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, mental health counseling, sex and health education, as well as meals and daily necessities for teenage girls who cannot afford them. The health center provided 6,713 welfare services (2,2015 cases of specialized diagnosis and treatment, 2,198 cases of psychological and emotional support, health education for 1,107 teenage girls, and 1,393 cases of basic living support and links to other services) in the previous year alone.
■ Pharmacy for Girls
Initially, 103 pharmacies for teenage girls were established with the cooperation of Seoul Pharmaceutical Association. Currently, there are about 200 pharmacies participating in the project. These pharmacies provide free non-prescription medicines such as painkillers up to four times a month with a cost limit of 10,000 won per visit, with articles for women such as sanitary pads, wet tissues, and others also being provided. Links to medical institutions and supporting facilities are also provided if necessary. (Inquiry: 120)
Providing Sanitary Pads to Teenage Girls between 10 to 19
Sanitary pads are provided for free to teenage girls between 10 to 19 years of age, on the premise that the cost of sanitary pads can impose a steep financial burden on teenage girls from low income families, despite them being daily necessities for women, like rice and clothing.
There are two ways of providing free sanitary pads. First, the sanitary pads can be kept in 850 facilities such as pharmacies for girls, runaway youth centers, etc. that are frequently used by teenagers at risk. Another method is delivering the sanitary pads to their homes. In order to help the 27,279 teenage girls who are beneficiaries of the national basic livelihood to use the service anonymously, applications will be received via the city website or e-mail, and the service will deliver 5 months’ worth of sanitary pads (two packs per month, 18 pads per pack) to their homes. Applications will be accepted from the end of June to July, and the products will be delivered starting in August.
The SMG is planning to invest a 500 million won budget to this project, and secure a sustainable support system for this project by cooperating with Community Chest of Korea and securing the participation of private sector. When furnishing and delivering sanitary pads, health care pocketbooks and leaflets containing basic information about menstruation, use of sanitary pads, information about reproduction, and contents that help improve the awareness of menstruation will also be distributed.
The Foundation of “Family Doctor for Girls” and “Puberty Clinic”
The SMG will also begin a project called “Family Doctor for Girls” before the end of the year to provide sex and health education for vulnerable social groups, such as children from community child centers. The project will be implemented in cooperation with professional doctors, pharmacists, Saenghyup, and local women’s organizations, and Saenghyup will provide education including the use of reusable cloth sanitary pads.
In Seoul Youth Health Center, the “Puberty Clinic Program”, carried out by medical professionals, will be provided. This program will offer sex and health counseling education on the understanding of body transformation, health control, menstrual irregularities, menstrual pain, and other health issues, and will also organize parties to celebrate the first period. In addition, health training for teenage girls will be conducted for the staff of Hope Welfare Center, Community Service Center, and youth facilities in order to find and support underserviced areas of health care.
Lastly, a health campaign for girls in Seoul will be promoted to improve the social awareness of menstruation, and to foster an environment that encourages the voluntary furnishing of sanitary pads in schools and youth facilities as well as distribution companies frequented by teenage girls.
▶ Inquiries: Women policy officer 02-2133-5046