The University of Regina club Champions of Change has put up 12 free menstrual product dispensers across the campus to combat “period poverty” during the fall semester.
“It’s this nice period dispenser that’s actually in the washroom,” said Raiha Shareef, president of Champions of Change.
“[It’s] such a big deal because that’s something that you don’t see regularly, like if a building has period products, they’re usually in an office, just reinforcing that stigma that it needs to be hidden away.”
Shareef said free, easily accessible menstrual products are important to have on campus because of the issue of period poverty. A study done by Plan Canada shows that one in three women under the age of 25 can’t find or afford period products. Another study by Plan Canada shows that 51% of girls and women in Canada have had to miss out on activities because of their period.
The initiative for dispensers of free period products started in the spring of 2020 when Champions of Change started a project called Period Station. They had four boxes of quality pads and tampons across the campus for students to access.
“The whole point of that was to provide period products on campus,” Shareef said, “and also to track the usage of each station to see if people were using it, how were they responding to it.”
From that project, the club saw a need across the campus for free menstrual products. In the spring the custodial services agreed to get 12 dispensers of pads and tampons.
“I’ve been in situations where I myself have forgotten to bring an extra period product, and it was all I could think about,” Shareef said. “I couldn’t focus on my actual class and that results in people doing horribly in their classes.”
Lois Vanderhooft is the vice-president of Your Time Foundation, a Regina based non-profit that is committed to provide women with the support they need to manage menstrual hygiene. She said there is a stigma around period products because of embarrassment.
“[The women] are still in need,” Vanderhooft said, “but yet they’re not telling others, even though there might be supplies for them.”
Vanderhooft said supplies aren’t always kept in the bathroom because of a fear of stealing. But Vanderhooft is adamant that if supplies are being taken, then that’s a good thing.
“We are of the mind set that if they are taking them, they surely need them,” Vanderhooft said.
Vanderhooft said the work Champions of Change has done is amazing to see and she believed it may inspire other places to do the same.
“We really hope it will change the way that schools, businesses and the government sees this topic,” Vanderhooft said.
“Those who cannot afford it, this is a need.”
Shareef said there’s still work to be done and the issue of free menstrual products on campus isn’t resolved yet.
“I would like to see more period products set up in men’s washrooms, more in the neutral washrooms because women aren’t the only menstruators and not all women menstruate,” Shareef said. “So, I think this is a continuing conversation but this is a really great start.”