March 8 is known around the world as International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a day to celebrate the economic, cultural, and political achievements of women—and brings awareness to gender inequalities that still exist today.
Each year, the day is centralized around a theme, which varies from country to country. For example, in Canada, the 2023 theme is Every Woman Counts. The International Women’s Day organization’s theme this year is #EmbraceEquity. While the United Nations theme is DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality. At joni, we’re here for all of it!
Our company mission is to create greater equality through accessible period care, but our larger why is to make period equity possible. Lack of access to period care products results in fewer opportunities at school and at work due to absenteeism and can create further economic hardship. Simply by ensuring everyone who needs period care has access to what they need, we can build the foundation of gender equality.
What’s more, is that we can leverage technology and innovation to drive period equity even further forward in an industry that has shown very little innovation—with your help. So let's get ready to celebrate together.
The themes around International Women’s Day are a call to action for everyone to work toward gender equity and ensure that all women have equal opportunities and rights. This is particularly relevant when we consider the issue of menstrual inequity and period poverty.
Menstrual inequity is a global problem that affects people who menstruate of all ages. It refers to unequal access to menstrual products, education, and services. This inequity often leads to period poverty, where women and girls cannot afford to purchase menstrual products or access safe and hygienic menstrual facilities. Period poverty affects health, education, and employment opportunities, which further perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality.
The #embraceequity theme is significant in addressing menstrual inequity and period poverty. It emphasizes the need for gender equity in all areas of life, including access to menstrual products and facilities. To achieve period equity, we need to ensure that all people who menstruate have access to menstrual products, education, and facilities, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality
The United Nation’s theme explores the digital gender gap impact on inequality for women and girls, whose lack of access to the online world could cause a $1.5 trillion loss to the GDP of low and middle-income countries by 2025.
Not only is it important that women have access to technology in order to achieve greater gender equality, but also how we leverage technology toward innovations that perpetuate equal opportunities. When we know that menstrual equity creates greater economic opportunities for women, then how can we use technology to create menstrual equity on a larger scale?
joni’s electronic wall dispensers are an example of a solution that uses technological innovation to bring menstrual equity to large workplaces and educational institutions. Dispensing free products, the machines provide their staff and students with free period care, reducing absenteeism and financial strain—and resulting in more promotion and graduation opportunities because missed work and school equals fewer opportunities.
If you’re thinking that pad and tampon dispensers aren’t new, you’re right—but there hasn’t been any innovation to these machines in decades. What’s important here is that products are dispensed for free, like toilet paper—and we’re not expected to carry a toilet roll around with us, either. What’s unique about this particular dispenser is its innovative interior chamber, which is adjustable to fit future joni product design changes. This prevents the machines from becoming obsolete and encourages continued innovation in period care products (because any change to product dimensions would otherwise require the cost-prohibitive replacement of whole machines).
What else can be done for gender equality through period equity?
Education: In addition to free menstrual products in schools, workplaces, and public facilities, another crucial step is to provide menstrual education in schools and communities. Education can help reduce the stigma around menstruation and increase awareness of menstrual health. Education can also empower women and girls to take control of their menstrual health and reduce the chances of experiencing menstrual inequity and period poverty.
Access to clean facilities: Furthermore, we need to ensure that menstrual facilities are safe, hygienic, and accessible to all women and girls. This includes providing access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and private spaces to change and dispose of menstrual products. While reusable period care products are a sustainable choice, access to biodegradable pads and tampons is especially important for those with limited access to facilities.
Push for government policies: Last year Scotland proved that menstrual care can be barrier-free for everyone who needs it. And in Canada, Minister Marci Ien and Parliamentary Secretary Jenna Sudds announced a national pilot for the Menstrual Equity Fund in the name of gender equality. Change is happening around the world and it’s important we keep pushing.
Petition your school and/or workplace: You can ask your workplace or school to bring period care products into washrooms. Not only does it support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies, it reduces absenteeism and even lost wages—not to mention being the right thing to do.
International Women's Day reminds us of the ongoing efforts to achieve gender equity. The #embraceequity theme is a call to action for everyone to work toward greater period equity, which can be achieved through a combination of traditional solutions and innovative approaches. Technology and innovation can play a significant role in addressing menstrual inequity and period poverty, from developing sustainable and affordable menstrual products to using innovative ways to distribute them. By embracing new technologies and innovative solutions, we can accelerate progress toward period equity and ensure that everyone who needs it has access to the menstrual products, education, and facilities they need to thrive.