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United Way paving road to end period poverty

By Elizabeth Shushkovsky

Published 11:26 PDT, Fri August 2, 2019

Last Updated: 2:53 PDT, Fri August 2, 2019

The harsh reality of period poverty is one United Way is determined to eliminate through its Period Promise campaign.

The harsh reality of period poverty is one United Way is determined to eliminate through its Period Promise campaign. 

The campaign originated with Tampon Tuesdays, where donations of tampons and other menstrual products were collected and redistributed to women in need.

United Way now operates this initiative locally, with advocates pushing for menstrual products to be donated, redistributed and accessible in public spaces such as schools. 

The Period Promise campaign relies on financial donations, both public and private.

A $95,000 grant from the B.C. provincial government will help the campaign move forward, ensuring menstrual products are more readily accessible. And at a reduced rate, Always and Tampax will be providing United Way with menstrual products.

Individuals have also shown initiative to organize their own Period Promise campaigns to collect donations in communities throughout the province. 

Sussanne Skidmore, co-chair of the Period Promise campaign, and treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour, said United Way chose B.C. for the project “because a momentum was being built here and around the world that showed a real appetite to move away from the traditional charity model, which is still necessary, and further toward public policy.” 

As part of the campaign, research will be conducted to see how many people accessed the products, how many products were used and to measure the effectiveness of the approach. 

“I think the biggest challenge is moving past the stigma, but right now the momentum and opportunity in time is allowing us to find ordinary people and political allies who are up for the challenge of having the conversation and making a difference,” explained Skidmore. 

Ten years ago, Skidmore would not have been comfortable talking on breakfast television holding a box of tampons in her hand. Back then, Skidmore was still tucking tampons up her sleeve and sneaking off to the bathroom. 

Over the last decade, there has been a slow but sure shedding of the stigma around menstruation. This has allowed for campaigns such as Period Promise to flourish. 

The campaign will be in effect until next July, after which time a report will be presented to the provincial government in December 2020.

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