It’s the new year and we’re excited to start off our 2021 Charity Highlights with the Period Purse in Toronto!
We got the chance to connect with Dani, the social media coordinator at the Period Purse, to ask her a few questions about what the organization is all about and how they’re working to change the stigma against menstruation.
Check out our full Q&A below:
Can you tell us a bit about the Period Purse and what it does?
The Period Purse is Canada’s First Not-For-Profit that fights for menstrual equity and against period poverty. It was founded in 2017 by Jana Girdauskas in Toronto, and in four years we have provided nearly 70,000 healthy and dignified periods to folks across over 21 Canadian cities. We do this through outreach and education and advocacy.
We just want to provide menstruators who are experiencing homelessness and marginalization with the means to have a healthy period. We want to educate the next generation to reduce the shame and the stigma surrounding periods. And, advocacy — we want to speak to our representatives on a municipal, provincial and federal level to create real change moving forward.
What is Period Poverty and why is it so important we educate people about it?
Period Poverty is quite simply not having access to the basic necessities that one needs to have a safe and healthy and dignified period. So this could be a lack of access due to funds — we do know that one in three Canadian women under the age of 25 have difficulties purchasing these items. We know that 89 per cent of shelters and health centres in Toronto struggle to afford these products themselves, so you can only imagine the trickle-down effect that has on the people that rely on these shelters and health centres. We know that it’s important to talk about this and raise awareness, but we also realize that periods are very personal for people. We’re hoping that by reducing the stigma surrounding periods, we can have more candid conversations about them and we can create real change.
It is a personal thing, it’s also kind of an invisible thing, but it does affect half the population and it affects people in different countries in very different ways. Once we start talking about it and raising awareness and shining a light on some of the cracks in our systems, we can hopefully start to move forward and treat period products as essential as toilet paper or soap.
Can you tell us about your program Menstruation Nation?
The Menstruation Nation is our education program. Right now we offer three virtual, period-positive presentations available to young people from the age of 10 to 21. We are in the post-secondary institutions as well, and like I said, there are three modules. The first one is Periods 101, this lets you know what to expect, and hopefully reduces some stigma around it and some fears. The next one is Period Poverty, so this educates people on the effects of period poverty, what it looks like and how they can help and get involved. The third one is Reusable Products. We know that tampons and pads and other products have a huge environmental impact. We also know that people have very personal reasons for choosing the products that they do. So the hope here is to let people know what’s out there — there are some amazing reusable products — to hopefully reduce our carbon footprint in all of this as well.
Those three programs are available on our website. You’ll receive a free handbook, though we do ask for a $100 donation. And again, we just believe that educating the next generation around healthy and dignified periods and sustainable products will only help us pave the way in reducing period poverty for all.
What are some of Period Purse’s 2021 goals?
Some of our goals for 2021 are just to continue with the momentum. We just celebrated four years and nearly 70,000 healthy periods provided to folks across 21 Canadian cities and so we want to keep that going. By 2022 we want to be providing 30,000 healthy periods a year and we also hope to be educating the next generation through our Menstruation Nation program. Our goal for that is to have 1,500 young people taking the course.
How can small/medium businesses who want to get involved support the Period Purse?
If you are a small or medium sized business and you want to get involved, we actually have a great program that’s perfect for you. It’s our Menstrual Movement, where you just make the pledge to provide free menstrual products in your workplace bathrooms.
Also, donations are always great but if that’s not on your radar, mini drives are great — you can raise a little bit of money or product with some friends or coworkers — and also just following us on your socials, sharing our content and liking things are really simple ways to get involved and help us grow.