The City of Kamloops is taking action to address period poverty by piloting an initiative to offer free period (menstrual) products to city staff and to the public in select public washrooms.
According to research spearheaded by the United Way British Columbia between 2019 and 2021, half of everybody who menstruates in B.C. — women, girls, non-binary and trans people — have struggled to buy menstrual products at some point in their life.
“More than a quarter have gone through a period without having menstrual products whatsoever, and nearly 15 per cent grew up in homes where they didn’t have access to period products,” said Alexa Graf of the United Way, noting that when people don’t have access to period products, they often miss school or work or use unsafe alternatives to make it through their days.
For several years, the City of Kamloops has participated in the United Way’s Period Promise campaign, collecting donations to provide period products to those in need through community organizations. The United Way campaign also encourages governments, public schools and other employers to provide period products free of charge to their employees and communities.
Thompson Rivers University and School District 73 also provide menstrual products.
The City of Kamloops period product pilot initiative has period products dispensers installed in washrooms in city hall, downtown at Victoria Street and First Avenue, in the city’s engineering building, downtown at Seymour Street and First Avenue, in the Tournament Capital Centre, next to TRU at 910 McGill Rd., and in the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre on the North Shore.
The city wants to expand availability to other public washrooms if the pilot project is successful. Residents are encouraged to provide feedback through a short online survey about the initiative at Kamloops.ca/PeriodProductInitiative. The survey is also available by QR code where period products are being provided.
For more information on the United Way’s Period Promise Campaign visit: PeriodPromise.ca
Through a provincial government grant, United Way BC has dispersed approximately $220,000 for 10 pilot projects.
The projects include testing innovative approaches and methods of distributing free menstrual products, conducting studies to examine the factors that contribute to period poverty and examining ways to reduce stigma around menstruation in culturally appropriate ways.
For example, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Community Services has been given $25,000 in grant funding to examine Indigenous moon-time traditions and develop a magazine aimed at youth. Moon time honours and celebrates a person’s menstrual cycle and is seen as a gift and a time to cleanse mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Funded pilot projects must be completed by August and will help the government’s period poverty task force develop recommendations for a comprehensive response to period poverty in B.C by March 2024.