Period poverty — the lack of access to affordable menstrual products — is a social issue gaining increasing public attention. This month, the U of M Social Work Students’ Association (SWSA) will be holding a donation drive this month to fight the problem.
Lindsy DeGagne came up with the idea to hold a period product drive because of an assignment she was given in class.
DeGagne, a third-year social work student and committee co-ordinator for SWSA, decided that instead of just writing a paper on the topic, she should take action, and so she brought the idea to SWSA.
She explained that period poverty is “a really pervasive issue” for all those who menstruate, whether it be cisgender women, gender-fluid people, non-binary people or transgender men.
“It impacts all menstruators around the world,” she said.
On average, any Canadian who menstruates may spend as much as $6,000 on period products in their lifetime.
Aside from obtaining the products themselves, another concern regarding period poverty involves having access to a safe and sanitary space to use them, such as a clean washroom.
DeGagne said that not having access to these products disadvantages minority groups and can affect menstruators’ day-to-day lives.
“It can impact your ability to enter society a certain day if you don’t have these products,” she explained.
“The drive is just being hosted to reaffirm our values of social justice and equity and access.”
DeGagne said that it is still unclear where the donations will go once the drive is over. Although SWSA hopes to donate to multiple organizations, it cannot predict how many products will be donated, and does not want to make promises to specific organizations in case it does not collect enough to meet its goals.
The association is looking to donate to organizations that are non-profit and that seek to assist those with lower incomes or who are a part of minority groups.
Some potential recipients include North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, Rainbow Resource Centre, Klinic or the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba.
DeGagne specified that the organizations who will receive these products should have the proper infrastructure to provide necessary hygiene kits.
She believes that, as a significantly gendered issue, period poverty is rooted in patriarchy. DeGagne added that she feels the financial burden of period products is a direct result of the economic system that we live in.
“We have structures at such an institutional level that are founded on principles of patriarchy and commodification of basic human needs, that’s why we suffer from it, she said.”
Donations will be accepted from March 1 to 31. Bins to collect donated products are located at the social work student lounge, the faculty of arts student lounge, the university 1 students lounge, the Women’s Centre and Elizabeth Dafoe library.
Tampons, pads, menstrual cups, liners, any size of new underwear and monetary donations
will be accepted. Those planning to make a financial donation should contact
email@example.com to arrange the details.