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COLUMN: Providing period products is a necessity

Marisca argues the importance of access to menstrual products for all
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I heard a shocking statistic recently – half of everyone who menstruates in B.C. has struggled to buy period products at some point in their life. And more than a quarter have gone through a period without having menstrual products whatsoever.

The average person who menstruates has about 450 periods in their lifetime. With an average of $20 spent on menstrual products per cycle, the cost builds over time to an estimated $9,000.

Average prices for both tampons and pads rose nearly 10 per cent last year.

Access to these necessary products has become more challenging for everyone because of the rising costs. According to United Way British Columbia, many people struggle to afford both period products and food, and menstrual stigma makes it difficult for people to ask for help.

They want to make it easier for people who menstruate to get through their periods with dignity and have launched a Period Promise campaign, with the goal of collecting half a million menstrual products by the end of the month.

Period products are necessary, but they are expensive.

Last year, federally regulated employers were required to make menstrual products available to workers at no cost while they are in the workplace. That means putting pads and tampons in washrooms so any worker who needs them while on the job has access.

School districts have also implemented providing free products but how they are distributed may vary between schools.

According to one student at Smithers Secondary School, they are kept in the office, not the bathroom. And it is hit or miss if the right product will be available.

While these are good steps in the right direction, more can be done. Having the products in an easy spot for high school students to grab, is a good first step.

Students shouldn’t have to turn to unsuitable solutions, such as extending the use of menstrual products beyond the recommended time frame or avoiding school.

Poor menstrual hygiene can pose serious health risks, such as reproductive and urinary tract infections. Leaving a tampon in for too long can lead to infections and can cause life-threatening toxic shock syndrome, although this is quite rare. Each year toxic shock syndrome affects about 1 in 100,000 women.

Period products are a basic need. Providing them can improve equity, reduce stigma, and create healthier, more inclusive environments.

Marisca Bakker is a reporter with the Interior News, a sister paper to the Alberni Valley News.



Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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