It’s not until the sale tags disappear that it strikes me how expensive pads can be.
And in that I’ve been incredibly fortunate: regular, non-discounted prices have yet to stop me from purchasing these essentials.
If only this were true for all individuals who bleed. Unfortunately in Canada, this isn’t the case for at least one-third of people under 25 who menstruate —and this lack of access to period care products is just one type of period poverty.
For people who bleed, period poverty can be a lack of access to clean washrooms as well. It can look like the absence of essential information around period pain and the ways to manage it, or missing out entirely on reproductive health education.
The fact is: periods are biological. They’re as regular and ordinary as sweating through our armpits. The sooner we embrace that—and encourage others to do the same—the sooner we’ll live in a world where individuals with periods can experience them with dignity.
So what can we start doing to make that a reality? Here are five ways to start fighting period poverty today.
1. Get Informed
It’s difficult to fight a battle we know little about. The more we understand about periods and the ways people from all walks of life experience them, the better equipped we’ll be to address period poverty when we see it.
What’s being done—or not being done—in your campus, community, city, and province to make pads and tampons accessible? How are others doing it better, and what can we learn from them?
2. Pay Attention to Our Language
Part of examining our beliefs and uncovering our learned stigma around periods is paying attention to the way we talk about it.
Do we bring our voices down to a hush? Do we resort to euphemisms? (I know I do!) Are we inclusive in our language?
As Victoria puts it, adopting gender-inclusive language around periods may be awkward to do at first, but it’s a natural part of unlearning old ways and learning better, more inclusive approaches to talking about periods.
3. Talk to Others About It
Normalizing the subject of periods is important, especially in conversations with individuals who don’t bleed. They, too, may carry their own learned stigmas, and we might be the only person to ever engage them on the subject.
Share resources on social media. Initiate discussions around period equity. If you come up against disagreements, try to keep in mind that we’re all on the same road to making things equitable for everyone who bleeds. Kindness and openness is key.
4. Let Leaders Know This is Important to Us
Across Canada, advocates and grassroots organizations are working on various levels to make things more equitable for individuals who bleed. So if you’re looking for a place to start, you don’t have to look too far! Let your MPs know that this is an important issue by supporting these organizations, amplifying their efforts, and volunteering where you can.
On the other hand, if you discover a need in your neighbourhood, school, or community for similar initiatives, why not take the first step?
5. Fight with our Dollar
Donate period products to local charities. Purchase from brands and outlets that are actively working to make period products accessible to all. Support initiatives like joni’s one-for-one model, where purchasing period essentials for yourself means easily doing the same for someone else.
Period poverty may be a political battle, but it is also a practical one, and at the end of the day we all want the same thing: a safe and dignified way to bleed. By supporting others with practical period essentials, we start making period equity a tangible reality.
There couldn’t be a better place to start.