Niagara, ON, May 17, 2022 – Over the past few years United Way Niagara has been paving the path towards menstrual equity in Niagara through the Period Promise campaign, collecting menstrual health products and financial donations. While we are making significant strides in collecting and distributing period products, our priority this year is to advance our efforts to ensure that period products are available in workplaces, local businesses and facilities across Niagara, for free, for anyone who needs them.
Period poverty is defined as the lack of access to affordable, appropriate and safe menstrual products. It affects girls, women, transgendered and non-binary individuals throughout Niagara, and it does so on a surprising scale. Period poverty is isolating and impacts the lives of people with financial limitations who may be unable to participate fully in community while on their period. Nearly one in seven Canadians who menstruate, have reported missing school, work or other important opportunities due to a lack of period protection (Confidence and Puberty Study by Always, Proctor & Gamble, 2018).
Isolation is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impacts of period poverty, collectively there needs to be a change to better protect and support people who menstruate from the impacts of period poverty. The Period Promise Campaign is more than a collection drive. While United Way continues to host the much-needed produce collection drive, our efforts are significantly focused on encouraging local businesses, workplaces and facilities to sign the Period Promise Policy.
The campaign is three-fold:
- to collect products for distribution to people in need in Niagara via community partners;
- to raise awareness of period poverty and health and gender equity;
- and perhaps most importantly, to advocate for systemic change for equitable and free access to period products for people who need them.
The Period Promise Policy asks organizations and businesses to commit to providing equitable and inclusive access to free period products within their facilities. This allows clients, customers, employees and facility users to access products as needed, allowing people to fully participate in their community.
Isolation, caused by period poverty is real. When someone is forced to make the choice to avoid activities due to not having period products, mental and physical well-being suffers. In order to create an inclusive community, where everyone is welcome, we must consider the Period Promise itself. It is an acknowledgement that periods are a fact of human life and equitable access to period products should be a right, not a privilege.
According to the Period Promise Research Project 2021*, the largest research of its kind in Canada:
- 26% of respondents indicated that they had gone through a period without having menstrual products available to them. It was much higher for respondents who are Indigenous, living with a physical or mental disability, or have an annual household income below $40,000
- Not having access to menstrual products is an isolating factor in how people live their day-to-day lives, with 18% of respondents indicated that they missed school, 22% missed work, 29% missed community events, 27% missed social events.
- Nearly 75% of respondents indicated that having access to products at community organizations allows them to be more engaged in their community.
United Way Niagara is asking Niagara’s businesses and organizations in the Niagara region to join the growing list of Period Promise Champions who have already committed to do their part in eradicating period poverty in our community. Consider making your Period Promise today.
*United Way Period Promise Research Project Final Report by United Way of the Lower Mainland. Funded by the Province of British Columbia