Periods are uncomfortable, painful, irritating, and overall an inconvenience to anyone who experiences them. The reality however for many women across the country is that getting their period doesn’t just mean having to take an extra Mitol, breaking out the hot water bottle, and devouring a chocolate bar for dinner. Periods for vulnerable women in our communities run the risk of infection, serious financial strain, and threaten on young girls’ educations. The only way we can start addressing the problems facing these young women is by having a conversation.
One-third of Canadian women under 25 have struggled to afford the appropriate hygiene products for their period and it’s no wonder why.
Periods are expensive!
Many of Canada’s homeless women struggle every month to maintain safe hygiene during their periods. Every month they are at risk of infections like toxic shock syndrome which can result in death or serious complications. Serious infections like this can be caused by inserting makeshift tampons made of old cloth or toilet paper in order to try and stop the bleeding. These makeshift products can cause yeast infections, urinary tract infections, burns, and ripping of the vaginal wall (OUCH!). It’s important for us to remember that often these women don’t have consistent bathroom access or appropriate healthcare. Not having access to feminine hygiene products isn’t just an issue of comfort or preference, but a serious medical and public health concern. This is not a conversation reserved for underdeveloped countries, it is an issue facing us now in the 10th largest economy in the world.
We are now hearing reports pouring in from MPs across northern Canada like MP Georgina Jolibois. She shared hundreds of girls from her constituency are skipping school when their period arrives every month. Girls as young as 12 and 13 are missing school because they cannot afford the cost of tampons or pads and cannot make it through the school day without bleeding through their clothing. Fly-in communities struggle with inflated prices on everyday items, and tampons and pads are no exception; costing upwards of 25 dollars! These sky-high costs are out of reach for many women, especially in the lowest income-generating communities in the north, where many families are surviving on just over $10,000 a year.
Period pain is real and adds to the stress that these girls face, as they cannot afford the pain relief let alone the hygiene products themselves. How can we expect indigenous and northern communities to tackle the issues of poverty and homelessness when girls are not being given proper access to education due to something out of their control.
The conversation should not be more painful than your monthly cramps!
There is a desperate need for EVERYONE to have an open conversation, including politicians about access to necessary (feminine) hygiene products.
Pads and tampons are a necessity, not a novelty.
If we continue to create pressure on our community leaders, we’ll be able to bring comfort and dignity to women in need. Places like Toronto, are beginning the conversation, but we all need to get involved.
We’re taking action at Kits by premiering our latest addition to the Kits family – our Feminine Hygiene Empowerment Kit (aka a period pack). You can join the conversation, take action with us by packing kits, and making an impact. If you’re still feeling a little funny about it all, not to worry, we’ll send everything you need to your front door, so forget awkward eye contact with the cashier at the check-out. Learn more about what it’s like to have your period as a homeless woman.