An annual fundraising drive is bringing awareness to period poverty while expanding access to menstrual products for Nova Scotians.
Tampon Tuesday is entering its fourth year, and for Sheena Jamieson, community navigator for Halifax Public Libraries, the initiative is all about fighting and alleviating period poverty in our communities.
“We know this is an expense that people have in their household budgets and personal budgets, and it's not always possible for everyone,” Jamieson explained. She noted the response from library visitors has been positive, and many are making plans to bring in menstrual products ahead of the Mar. 29 deadline.
Not only has Halifax Public Libraries taken part in Tampon Tuesday since the initiative began in 2019, but libraries in the HRM are among the municipal facilities that began offering free menstrual products to visitors in Dec. 2020.
“It's such a big barrier,” Jamieson said. “If you can't afford menstrual products and you need them, there's really no way around it: either you address the need or you go without,” she added, noting going without often means missing school or work, creating even more barriers to everyday life.
Laura Whitman is the director of creative services and experience design at United Way Halifax. In an interview with CityNews Halifax, she said the initiative collected over 51,000 menstrual products in 2019 to disperse among 15 local charities.
“Period poverty is when a person doesn't have the income to purchase the menstrual products they need when they need them,” Whitman explained. “It’s an issue that affects women, but also children, trans men and non-binary individuals in the community. It's not just just a women's issue.”
Whitman estimates period poverty affects thousands of people in the Halifax Regional Municipality, particularly now with rising costs amidst the largest inflation levels in decades.
Not only is period poverty a financial issue, but Whitman says it’s also a dignity issue when people are “being forced to make less hygienic choices in terms of how to take care of themselves.” And it's an equity issue, she pointed out, considering “women and trans folks are already likely to be earning lower income [while] doing more unpaid labour."
Whitman points out menstruation can be both stressful and difficult, particularly for trans folks as it can contribute to body dysphoria as well as “a lack of belonging in their own body.”
Menstrual products can be dropped off at any Halifax Public Library branch until the end of day on Mar. 29.