Tackling period poverty should be of great importance across a country where a projected 50.4% of the population (19,356 people) will be female by 2021. But it’s not an easy issue to address.
That is why Regina, Saskatchewan, resident Terri Kot is collecting donations of handbags and menstrual products to be turned into makeshift period kits that she plans to give to organizations like Carmichael Outreach, the YWCA, and women's shelters in Regina, CBC reported.
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“Unfortunately, it's an area of life that people don't talk that openly about,” Kot told CBC. “I don't know why, but in society, women in need, that are maybe in a transition home or homeless, are kind of hidden in society. I don't think there's a lot of awareness of how much need there is for this kind of program.”
Kot will gather donations until Dec. 15 and will potentially run this program annually. She decided to start this initiative after learning about the Period Purse in Toronto, according to CBC.
The Period Purse, an organization first launched in Toronto in 2017, collects handbags and menstrual product donations, as well as money donations, to help tackle period poverty in Canada.
The initiative has received 4,699 purse donations and 5,552 period pack donations since starting, and it now extends across nine locations in Ontario, all aiming to provide “marginalized menstruators with access to free menstrual products, and to reduce the stigma surrounding periods through public education and advocacy,” the site reads.
Period poverty is perhaps a bigger issue than some realize in a country like Canada. One in three Canadian women under 25 have struggled to afford menstrual products, according to a Plan International Canada report released earlier this year.
“Our survey results show that period poverty is a real, often devastating issue faced by young women and girls in Canada and worldwide,” Saadya Hamdan, director of gender equality at Plan International Canada, told Global News in May. “Without affordable access to menstrual hygiene products, girls and women everywhere are prevented from fulfilling their potential.”
About 235,000 people experience homelessness in Canada every year and almost 5 million Canadians live in poverty. Menstrual hygiene products should not be considered luxury items, and it’s important for all women and girls to have access to the products they need to be safe and healthy.
In 2015, while Canada maintained their import tariffs, the former Conservative federal government lifted the country's GST tax on menstrual hygiene products (also known as the ‘tampon tax’). The elimination of the ‘tampon tax’ is a trend many states and nations are adopting in a small but important victory for women and girls everywhere.