For most women, their time of the month is never an enjoyable experience. But imagine the period-related anxiety that develops for people who struggle to afford menstrual products every month.
Let’s face it, even for middle-income earning people the costs of buying pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and menstrual panties gets expensive.
In 2019, Plan International Canada found a third of Canadian women under the age of 25 have struggled to afford menstrual products.
The report also showed 34 per cent of women in Canada have had to sacrifice something else within their budget to afford menstrual products on an occasional or regular basis. While the Canadian government has removed the sales tax from menstrual products, the costs are still a luxury for many.
Canadian women spend up to $6,000 in their lifetime on menstrual hygiene products and women living in rural communities can pay double the price compared to women living in larger cities like Toronto, according to Plan International Canada.
Scotland was the first to provide free menstrual products nationwide in 2020. This past February, the prime minister of New Zealand announced that students will get free access to menstrual products, and states in the U.S. and provinces like British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are also offering free menstrual products for students.
So where is Durham College in all of this?
Jenna Peace, executive chair of Durham College Student Inc. (DCSI), has said that DCSI is currently taking steps to help fix the issue.
Right now, you can find dispensers installed in restrooms near the DCSI campus that provide pads and tampons for free.
The problem is these dispensers are only available on one part of campus and DCSI is the only department at Durham College paying for them.
“We need the rest of the college to get on board so we can get dispensers installed in every restroom all over campus,” Peace said.
Peace said the student athletic department may be coming on board soon but she’s not certain on how long it may take for the rest of the college to help fund the initiative.
Although this is a great start, the president of the college, Don Lovisa should be on board in this movement.
In a recent article in the Chronicle, Barbara MacCheyne, DC’s vice president, administration and chief financial officer, said the college is currently “sitting on a $40 million surplus.”
Even with the financial struggles of the pandemic, Lovisa said the college is in a “strong cash position.”
Being a student is a financial burden on its own because of the costs of tuition, books, travelling, food/groceries, etc. These financial struggles can become even more amplified for students living on their own or taking care of dependants.
Periods are a natural bodily function.
It’s unfair that women need to factor menstrual products into their budget while in school, especially when so many students rely on financial aid to even attend school.
Education should be a student’s main focus and it should be part of every college’s responsibility to make that focus come with ease.
DC strives for equality, diversity and tries to make each student feel heard. The college even has an “Are You Okay?” button on the front page of its website.
DC should become the first college in Ontario to offer free menstrual products for its students.
After all, Durham College’s mission statement is: “Together, leading the way.”