Toronto, ON – May 25, 2022 – One in five (21%) girls, women, and people who menstruate in Canada struggle to afford menstrual products for themselves or their dependents, according to new survey results released today by Plan International Canada.
Globally, the issue of period poverty affects 500 million people who don't have access to menstrual supplies or safe washrooms. The lack of resources has negative effects on girls and young women, such as harming their health and causing them to miss school, and the shame associated with periods prevents them from full participation in everyday activities.
Launched for Menstrual Health Day, Menstruation in Canada – Views and Realities explores the impacts of periods among youth and adults aged 13 and older in Canada.
@PlanCanada’s 2022 #menstrualhealth research reveals period poverty persists in Canada. Read more: Tweet
How Plan International addresses period poverty and stigma
The research also found that those who menstruate experience social stigma, such as being teased by others and feeling the need to hide their period. Two in three (66%) girls and women have heard having a period or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) being used as an insult.
"We've seen some progress over the years on period poverty by local youth advocates and grassroots movements, but equitable access to menstrual products – availability and affordability to everyone, everywhere – is just the first step and the bare minimum. This ensures the dignity of every person who needs them, particularly those from vulnerable populations and in low-income countries. It is also critical from a hygiene and health perspective," says Saadya Hamdani, Director of Gender Equality and Inclusion at Plan International Canada.
"The second step," Hamdani adds, "is education to break stigma, misinformation and shame surrounding periods, including teasing and bullying. This is a form of gender-based discrimination that has a negative impact on menstruators' ability to participate fully in society."
Plan International's work in menstrual health supports young people to manage their periods safely, help them speak up about their health needs, and raise girls’ confidence and self-esteem so they stay in school, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused disruptions to their education.
How does menstruation affect young people’s lives around the world?
Ziyaan Virji, a Plan International Canada youth ambassador and founder of For the Menstruator says: “As someone who doesn’t menstruate, it’s imperative to approach those who do with empathy and help normalize an issue that impacts 1.8 billion people around the world every month.”
“This understanding should lead to open dialogue and tangible action around periods, including men and boys, as all of us benefit from an equitable society that respects everyone’s reproductive health needs,” Virji explains. “There are already too many barriers to girls’ and young women’s empowerment – period poverty shouldn’t be one of them.”
Join the conversation on Menstrual Health Day with @PlanCanada
About Plan International Canada
Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and is now active in more than 75 countries.
We are calling on all Canadians to embrace their global citizenship: to believe in the power and potential of every child and to stand with children, especially girls, anywhere they are oppressed, exploited, left behind or aren’t equally valued.
Visit plancanada.ca for more information.
About Plan International Canada’s 2022 menstrual health research
Plan International Canada, in partnership with Maru Matchbox, conducted two scientific surveys of 1,074 women, girls, and other people who menstruate, and 731 men and boys in Canada in April 2022 (including those who identify as non-binary and gender fluid).
The research explores access and affordability of menstrual products, as well as public support for free products in a range of settings such as schools, shelters and the workplace. The survey also found that there is still negative social stigma associated with periods despite growing public conversation on the topic.
Other key findings from the report:
Daily living of those who menstruate
Support for access to free products
Stigma and shame
Perceptions of men and boys
Plan International Canada. Menstruation in Canada – Views and Realities, May 2022.
Plan International Canada
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