Author: Kate Elliott (she/her)
Admittedly, the term ‘menstrual equity’ can seem a bit confusing. What on earth is that? Does that mean everyone’s periods are in sync? But what about ending period poverty? All of these questions might pop into your head, so, let’s kick off with a definition to make sure we’re all on the same page…
Menstrual equity is having equal access to period products, ways to manage menstruation, as well as education around reproductive health.
Here are 5 easy actions you can do to help achieve menstrual equity:
1. Donate Period Products
The cost of period products can be a huge barrier for people trying to manage their period. This means that some folks have to resort to using products for too long, theft, or homemade alternatives like socks and newspapers. You can make a huge difference by donating period products within your community, try your local food bank and shelters!
2. Put Period Products in your Bathroom
And a bin! Now, this one is a bit less pressing given that we all have a lot fewer visitors in our home thanks to social distancing. However, this is still something you can implement now. Whether you menstruate or not, someone using your bathroom might! Don’t make it so that they have to ask you for products, just have them in the bathroom ready. And a crucial part is to remember the bin...you don’t want your guests to have to carry their garbage out.
3. Talk About Periods
Now, this is a simple one. In my experience, once you start, you can’t stop! Talk about it with your friends, your family, your children...yep, that includes the cis-men around you! I do get that this might be intimidating, and the goal isn’t to make anyone uncomfortable. The bottom line is that periods are normal, and we should treat them that way. Talk about your experiences, talk about the pain, and talk about the times you have to make a toilet paper pad!
4. Push for your Workplace/School to Provide Period Products
I’m not talking about those rusty dispensers that require loose change (an archaic concept at this point). This can be as simple as a basket on the back of the toilet or next to the sinks that have period products for when you need them. Period products are just as important as toilet paper and anyone can be caught off guard! If they won’t listen to you, try putting in some products yourself to gain evidence that people need them.
5. Purchase a Period Shirt
Coincidentally, this will also cover steps 1 and 3! Yes, the Period Shirt is both beautiful and amazing quality. In addition to that, proceeds from each sale of our Periods Shirts fund the distribution of Period Packs around Waterloo Region/Guelph to ensure access to period products. The Period Shirt also normalizes periods and starts a conversation. If wearing a beautiful shirt with a used period product on it doesn’t scream “PERIODS ARE NORMAL”, then I really don’t know what does.
So there’s your list, a starter kit if you will, to achieving menstrual equity. Each of these alone can make a huge difference, and bonus points if you do all 5!