Tampons and pads are some of the top costing products when it comes to feminine hygiene for women in Canada. So much so, that a study by Plan International found that one-third of Canadian women under the age of 25 have struggled to afford hygiene products to help manage their cycle. Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam is attempting to help solve this issue by expanding a program where Shoppers Drug Marts across Toronto will offer free menstrual hygiene products through dispensers to people that need them, but can't afford them.
A piloted menstrual hygiene product dispenser already exists at the 351 Queen Street East Shoppers Drug Mart Location in Toronto and has so far been a huge success at helping women in Toronto who are in need. Wong-Tam wishes to add two more to the 465 Yonge Street location and the 524 Queen Street West locations.
These dispensers are around the same size as a newspaper box and will have a PIN code that is needed to access them. This PIN code will be printed on cards and handed around several homeless shelters in the area where women struggle most to afford menstrual hygiene products.
The form of a dispenser is meant to offer women a more dignified and private way to obtain the products that they need when it is most convenient for them.
Shopper’s Community Investment Director, Lisa Gibbs reached out about the program stating that it will “support the health of women vulnerable due to homelessness, and acknowledge a basic human need,”.
Several schools across Ontario have also started to make menstrual hygiene products more accessible to younger women who may be struggling to afford them. Many universities, like the University of Toronto, have started to offer menstrual products for free on their campus grounds as well.
Other programs and pilots have also been in place to ensure that menstrual products are seen as human necessities. New York has just recently passed a law for the entire state that free menstrual products will be available in several public school washrooms.
The Toronto City Council will debate the motion later this week.