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Challenging stigmas and ending period poverty

Provincial Press Release May 28, 2021 @ 1:31 pm published 3:13 pm

Alberta’s government is recognizing Menstrual Hygiene Day and investing $260,000 in Alberta’s United Ways Period Promise campaign to address period poverty and raise awareness of period stigma.

As part of a two-year pilot program in partnership with United Ways across the province, Alberta’s government will support the Period Promise campaign to help the organizations provide menstrual products, install menstrual product dispensers in schools throughout the province and ensure students have access to free products in schools. More than 100 schools will benefit from Period Promise, which will launch in fall 2021.

“Education and access are the two common barriers to good menstrual hygiene. So many women, girls and gender-diverse people are still faced with misinformation, stigma and lack access to period products, which means they are missing work, school and participating in our communities. More importantly, they are at risk of facing long-term health complications if products are improperly used. We need to push for change, talk more openly about our health and normalize periods for all. Let us also take this opportunity to help our neighbours by donating period products to our local food banks and women’s shelters. Use the hashtag #PeriodPromise to share your donation and encourage others to do the same!” Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

“No one should have to miss school because of a period. By investing in the United Way’s Period Promise campaign, we are ensuring our students have access to period products to help end the stigma around menstruation and ensure Alberta’s students are supported inside and outside the classroom.” Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

Many women, girls and gender-diverse people in Alberta and around the world experience period poverty, meaning they are unable to afford or access period products. This has been exacerbated by the financial struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. Good menstrual hygiene management is key to good health and socialization.

“We know people who menstruate often have to make the difficult choice between being able to purchase menstrual products or other basic needs. Menstrual stigmas remain even today, and period poverty increases vulnerability and isolation. These things can interrupt students’ education, creating barriers to attending school. That is why United Ways across Alberta are honoured to be partnering with the Government of Alberta to change this for students in our province with Period Promise. Providing equitable access to menstrual products with dignity and respect will ensure no student is left behind simply because they are menstruating. Together, building on the great work started in central Alberta, we can tackle period poverty and support students in our province.” Rob Yager, president & CEO, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region

“For more than 35 years, P&G and Always has been committed to creating positive social norms around menstruation and helping young people have access to the period products they need to stay confident and continue all their day-to-day activities. Through our research, we know that one in seven girls in Canada have missed school due to lack of access to period products. We are thrilled to partner with the Government of Alberta and United Way’s Period Promise campaign across the province to help provide students with barrier-free access to menstrual products.” Geraldine Huse, president, P&G Canada

Access and misinformation cause barriers

In addition to the rising costs of period products, many women, girls and gender-diverse people around the world encounter period stigma. Myths and misinformation about periods can be shared with the best intentions, but it often leads to shame, anxiety and poor decisions that impact health. The stigma, combined with period poverty, can lead to using products for too long, using unhygienic alternatives or ignoring symptoms that could be signs of larger problems. Access and information is further impeded in areas where young people have little to no access to online resources.

Donations encouraged at local food banks

To commemorate the declaration of Menstrual Hygiene Day, and to help raise awareness of good menstrual hygiene management, Minister Aheer is encouraging Albertans to donate period products to their local food banks and women’s shelters.

Quick facts

  • It is estimated the average person who menstruates will use more than 17,000 tampons or pads in their lifetime.

  • A 2018 survey conducted by Always found that one in seven Canadian girls has missed school because they could not access menstrual products.

  • Plan International Canada’s poll found:

    • 83 per cent of the women aged 18 to 25 polled felt their periods held them back from fully participating in an activity.

    • 70 per cent have missed school, work or a social event as a result of their period.


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