Toronto recognizes May 28 as the city’s inaugural Menstrual Hygiene Day

The global initiative has been raising awareness of the challenges menstruators face for four years

TORONTO, May 28, 2018 – The City of Toronto proclaims today Menstrual Hygiene Day. Initiated by WASH United in 2014, Menstrual Hygiene Day raises worldwide awareness of the challenges people face due to their menstruation. For the first time in Toronto’s history, the City is officially recognizing the important initiative.

Around the world, a lack of access to menstrual products, sanitation and privacy inhibits women, trans-men and girls from managing their menses safely and with dignity. Makeshift menstrual products made from rags, paper and other found materials are a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to infection. Coupled with deep-rooted taboos surrounding menstruation, the fear of leaks, stains and odours often keep people home from school or work during their periods, the repercussions of which are far-reaching.

This isn’t an issue that only affects those in developing countries. Here in Toronto, pads or tampons may be readily available in many stores, but at an average of $8 to $10 a box, the cost is prohibitive for low-income menstruators and those living on the streets or in shelters.

“The reality is, many people experiencing homelessness are using newspaper or homemade tampons, or they resort to stealing,” Jana Girdauskas, founder of The Period Purse, says.

The Period Purse is a grass-roots organization that provides purses filled with tampons, pads and wellness items directly to homeless, abused and impoverished menstruators across Canada.

“What other choice do they have when menstrual products aren’t even a line item in the budget for our city’s shelters or drop-in centres? Any products that are available have been donated and supply can be sporadic. You might get one or two tampons for your entire cycle,” Girdauskas says.

In public restrooms, toilet paper and soap are made readily available, but menstrual products are not.

Amanda Laird, host of Heavy Flow, a podcast dedicated to periods and reproductive health, says this is a reflection of who is at the decision-making table in the city and beyond.

“Boys aren’t taught about menstruation in health class and it’s still such a taboo topic. Periods are just not something you’re supposed to talk about,” Laird says. “If you’ve never had a period or you don’t know anything about them you’re not going to think about how a lack of menstrual products might impact your day; about how being caught unprepared when your period starts might affect you.”

Improving the lives of Canadian menstruators, The Period Purse is hosting a mini-fundraising drive, collecting tampons, large purses and backpacks, until Fri. June 8. Donations can be dropped off at Tokki, located at 3124 Dundas St. W. in Toronto.

Purse packing parties are also scheduled on Sat. June 2 and Sat. June 9, in both the west and east ends of the city. All members of the community are encouraged to participate and support The Period Purse. To RSVP and learn more, visit theperiodpurse.com/events.

“Join me and The Period Purse on social media this Menstrual Hygiene Day. Use #MHDay2018 and #NoMoreLimits to empower your network and bring us closer to menstrual equity,” Girdauskas says.

For more information and for interview requests, please contact:

Amanda Laird
Host of The Heavy Flow Podcast
amanda@amandalaird.ca
647-208-2097

Jana Girdauskas
Founder of The Period Purse
jana@theperiodpurse.com
416-518-8400

About Menstrual Hygiene Day
Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is a global platform that brings together non-profits, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), initiated by WASH United in 2013. http://www.menstrualhygieneday.org

About The Period Purse
The Period Purse is a grassroots organization that provides purses filled with tampons, pads and wellness items directly to homeless, abused and impoverished menstruators across Canada. A year into the mission and The Period Purse has handed out over 3,200 purses and now supports 530 local menstruators living in Toronto shelters. http://www.theperiodpurse.com

About Amanda Laird + The Heavy Flow Podcast
Amanda Laird is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, author of the forthcoming book Heavy Flow: Understanding and embracing your menstrual cycle as a vital sign (Dundurn 2019) and host of Heavy Flow, a feminist, body-positive podcast about periods, reproductive health and other taboo health and wellness. Tune in on Apple Podcasts and all other major podcast players, or at http://www.amandalaird.ca