Period poverty a barrier in our province

Anna Murphy
Kicker

United Way of Newfoundland and Labrador hosted Tampon Tuesday this week to shine a light on “period poverty” in the province.

Dozens of supporters attended the event at Cojones in downtown St. John’s with donations of menstrual products. The St. John’s Women’s Centre collected the products for their Personal Care Pantry Program.

A sign directs attendees of Tampon Tuesday into the event at Cojones in St. John's, NL. Anna Murphy/ Kicker.
A sign directs attendees of Tampon Tuesday into the event at Cojones in St. John’s, NL. Anna Murphy/ Kicker.

Tammy Davis, the executive director of United Way Newfoundland and Labrador explains the term period poverty.

“Period poverty is the financial situation that people who menstruate find themselves in because of the financial barriers to purchasing products.”

At the event, the tables were decorated with facts about period poverty. Anna Murphy/ Kicker.
At the event, the tables were decorated with facts about period poverty. Anna Murphy/ Kicker.

Davis says period poverty is found within vulnerable housing situations.

“Whether they are living in poverty or homeless, they have nowhere to store things. It’s about the financial situation that is caused because we have to pay a premium for products that we have no choice in whether we need or not.”

She sees period poverty as a cycle. Having limited access to proper products can lead to missed work and an opportunity for money.  

“Seventy of women say they have missed work because of their period. And 30 per cent of young women say they have been unable to purchase menstrual products.”

In addition, Davis highlights that limited access to menstrual products forces women to unsafe solutions.

“Sometimes it’s a choice between food and period products. We are not at this current time helping women be the healthiest people they can be.”

Donations of menstrual products at Tampon Tuesday. Anna Murphy/ Kicker.
Donations of menstrual products at Tampon Tuesday. Anna Murphy/ Kicker.

Mary Shortall, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says the barriers menstrual products can create are endless.

She urges the community to add these items to their donations to the food bank year-round.

“When you go to the food banks very seldom to do see space for feminine hygiene and if you do it’s normally empty.”

Shortall feels the Federation of Labour has a responsibility to assist those in need.

“In the labour movement, we have always been committed to identifying those issues for those who have no voice and for doing the advocacy work around it.”

Both Shortall and Davis insist that the best way to fight period poverty in our province is through education in the community. Also, by supporting organizations that have access to vulnerable populations.

Davis adds, “Truly we can’t do this alone. We are all in this together.”

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