I want to talk about periods, I don’t mean the punctuation at the end of sentences. I mean the embarrassing natural thing that happens to all women.. PERIODS. In all fairness I want to talk about something that is being coined (excuse the word play) Period Poverty.
Yup period poverty, I am scrolling though my Instagram feed on my lunch break today and I see Scotland has a pilot program that is giving low-income families period products, what started as a small trial is now going to be rolled out across their country (a side note, in an article I read on BBC Glasgow had a fundraiser for these products by having a Bloody Sunday Brunch where attendees we asked to pay for their Bloody Sunday’s with Sanitary napkins or tampons.– I think this is a genius idea and great way to raise money).
This idea perked up the feminist activist in me and I started looking into this a little closer to home. Google, it’s a wonderful tool so I pulled up more articles and information. I came across a Global News article from here in Canada. To summarize the article written by Dani-Elle Dube, she said according to a report conducted by Plan International Canada roughly 1/3 of Canadian women under the age of 25 have struggled to afford menstrual product. The study also found that feminine hygiene products were in the top three material costs of being a women across all ages with the exception of the over 65 bracket (thank you Menopause). 83% of the women also felt that having their period prevents them from fully participating in activities and 70% say they miss work or school. This article also talks about the stigma or period and misinformation or the cultural taboo of not really speaking of menstruation can cause emotional anxiety and affect females mental health. Saadya Hamdani, the Director of Gender Equality and Child Protection at the Plan International Canada is quoted in the article saying, “A conversation about periods is a conversation about gender equality and it’s a conversation we’re simply not having as a society right now. In order to address period poverty and other menstrual hygiene issues, we need to ensure that there are leaders in government, corporations, and communities who will openly advocate of this issue.”
Challenge Accepted….Let’s Talk
Do you know that here in Cochrane Alberta, at the food bank there is not an option on a request-form for menstrual products. I know people who were involved in the organization and they were telling me that they don’t even remember such items being donated, I used to work at a grocery store that when they did hampers, gathered donations for the Cochrane Activettes feminine hygiene products were not included. I looked at the Calgary Food Bank website, there was no mention on their website under the other items for such product. That is not to say they don’t accept them, but they are not being advertised as needed products alongside other hygiene related items. I did see the Women in Need and Women’s Emergency Shelter in Calgary on their websites speaking to the need for Feminine Hygiene items.
Lets not stop at that;
Lets talk about how in public bathrooms there used to be paid for napkin or tampon machines, they were usually busted or empty yet the condom one was working well. Or how girls seem to be embarrassed by their periods, taking their whole purse to the bathroom instead of just a tampon (we aren’t fooling anyone….we aren’t that sneaky ) or how when a workplace (I have some in my locker for the girls I work with just in case) offers pads or tampons people are questioned as to why. I remember in school being able to get free condoms of the Guidance Councillor but having to go to the infirmary as if I was sick if I needed a tampon. Lets not even get me started on hygiene products carrying a luxury tax in some places (you know because your period is such a luxury). For all these reasons we need to continue talking.
I have never been ashamed or embarrassed by my period, I am of the mindset… I am a female, this is part of being a female, we all know it, we learn about it in health class. I try to avoid the changing my tampon purse walk to shame by just owning it. I talk about periods, I am passionate about such issues relating to Women’s Health, and I find it ludicrous that almost half of the population menstruates and it is a taboo subject. We are showing the next generation that part of being a girl is shameful or gross and it doesn’t have to be. The society in which we live mocks the period and its PMS sister, with jokes and ads for feminine hygiene products that are unrealistic and are quite frankly embarrassing. Could you imagine a world where there was no shame in being female, what would that take? Isn’t it worth a shot?
I am going to continue this conversation, in the upcoming days I am going to start raising money for the women in my community for feminine hygiene products and donate them to whatever organizations will take them (I will post details when I have them). I want to do my part to ease period poverty and to aid in pushing back against the stigma that periods carry. I mean I should it makes sense I am a woman and it is about bloody time.