It is no secret that female hygiene products are expensive and that often women feel like there is a ‘pink tax’ on any of the items they regularly need to purchase.
Often times, women who have low income find it difficult to purchase basic hygiene products like tampons or pads to help them get through their period comfortably.
An initiative by Peace River Women’s Shelter is trying to help curb the anxiety some women feel when it approaches the ‘time of the month’.
“We believe that access to period products should be a basic human right and should be provided free of charge everywhere as it is important and period poverty is real,” says Peace River Regional Women’s Shelter (PRRWS) and Family Violence Prevention advocate Nadine Kamieniecki.
“Having access to clean period products helps prevent physical health issues as well as boosting self-esteem and does not need to be hidden or shameful,” she adds.
The shelter operates two period pantries in Peace River that have been accessible all hours of the day to women in need. The pantries are located downtown beside the Mental Health building at 10011 98 Street and in the north end across from Springfield Elementary School at 7716 99 Street.
Both pantries are restocked as needed and depending on donations received.
“We started this after seeing some other initiatives throughout Alberta and seeing the need from our clients and our community members, we worked with our executive director Sandra O’Doherty who was immediately on board and our maintenance person to build the pantries and local pharmacies for the initial stock of products,” Kamieniecki says.
“Local agencies have reached out and provided some financial support to stock the products and keep our pantries running.”
Kamieniecki says the program is important to help people in the community have access to products that will help ensure proper hygiene.
The period pantries are out in the open, visible to all. Having periods is not shameful and does not need to be hidden.
“We saw a need that needed to be met and we wanted to address it,” says Kamieniecki, adding the pantries were created to help prevent physical health issues, such as toxic shock syndrome.
“Lack of period products or clean period products can stop people from attending work, school, or social activities,” Kamieniecki explains.
“Having access to clean period products can boost self-esteem and self-image as you feel comfortable, you won’t leak, or you won’t have an accident.”
The pantries are currently short on panty liners, high absorbency pads, and higher absorbency tampons.
Kamieniecki says people can drop off period products at the period pantries, phone the shelter at (780) 624-3466, or they can drop them off as donations or make monetary donations at the shelter, indicating the funds are to be used for period pantries.
“We have had a couple people reach out and share that the period products have helped them tremendously, indicating that when finances are tight having access to this necessity is one thing, they know they no longer have to worry about and they can put their finances to other important aspects such as food and rent,” she says.
“Community members have reached out stating they are happy to see a program like this in Peace River and share stories of struggling in the past and now being able to contribute themselves to ensure others don’t have the same struggles.”
Kamieniecki says she hopes other communities will follow suit, making a period pantry available to women in their communities who may need the assistance.
“This benefits our community as it is a start to ending period poverty, a start to helping end the shame associated with periods and provides everyone access to products they need, when they need without fear or stigma,” she says.