An upcoming “period fair” aims to bust menstrual stigma and show people that periods are healthy and normal.
The Menstrual Research Institute is hosting Periods, Politics and Beyond! on Tuesday, March 10 at Douglas College. Organizers suspect the period fair may be the first event of its kind in British Columbia, and possibly Canada.
“Hear from menstrual-equity advocates and learn about the progress made in B.C. over the past few years to get free and accessible menstrual products into schools and public bathrooms to support women and girls as they go about their life outside the home,” said organizers in an email to the Record. “It’s a chance to meet people, share ideas and experiences. Learn how to get more involved. Most importantly, we come together to bust menstrual stigma because periods are healthy and normal.”
The event is open to everyone – all genders and ages, and it’s free.
Organizers are asking attendees to bring tampons, pads and/or other menstrual supplies for donations to the Period Promise campaign, as they will be distributed to local women’s shelters.
Taking place in the main concourse at Douglas College’s New Westminster campus (700 Royal Ave.), Periods, Politics and Beyond! features eight speakers, as well as vendors showcasing their works and products. The fair includes networking from 5 to 5:30 p.m., Panel 1 with a Q&A from 5:30 to 6:50 p.m., a networking break from 6:50 to 7:10 p.m. and Panel 2 with Q&A from 7:10 to 8:30 p.m.
In February 2019, the New Westminster board of education unanimously supported a motion to install coin-free menstrual product dispensers in all local schools by September 2019 – making it the first school board in B.C. to do so.
In November 2019, city council directed staff to implement a pilot program providing free menstrual products in civic facilities, including recreational spaces and libraries. It will also provide a pilot program to help homeless, low-income and vulnerable girls, women, trans individuals and non-binary people.
The city approved the pilot program is in response to the United Way’s Period Promise campaign, which aims to increase access to menstruation products to vulnerable populations and address period poverty. Products will initially be offered at Centennial Community Centre, the library, Quayside Park, Queensborough Community Centre and the youth centre, as well as at the Elizabeth Fry Society, the New Westminster Food Bank and the Union Gospel Mission.
According to a staff report presented to council in November, almost one-quarter of Canadian women say they are struggling to afford menstrual products for themselves and/or their children. More than 66% say their periods have prevented them from participating fully in day-to-day activities of life.