Period Packs is here for all menstruators. We want to end menstrual inequity.
Our partnership with Period Packs has propelled us into the next level of our fight for period equity to support more periods than ever before. We are so inspired by Meghan White and Lauren Cauchy's leadership that began only in 2019 as a way to address period poverty in Ottawa. By collecting menstrual product donations and distributing them to community partners, such as the food bank and community housing, they are able to support 450 periods each month.
It was during the lockdown in 2020 when Period Packs approached the City of Ottawa for funding so they were able to serve those who lost access to menstrual products that had previously been provided by some Ottawa services that had closed due to the pandemic.
It was the beginning of a partnership—along with joni—that led to a pilot project that launched in February 2021 to provide free menstrual products in four municipal facilities and community centres in Ottawa.
We're so proud to push this initiative forward together and further our mission to empower everyone who menstruates.
We caught up with Period Packs Co-founder, Meghan White for this Q&A.
What is Period Packs and why did you start it?
Period Packs is a non-profit working to eradicate menstrual inequity in Canada, through access, advocacy, and education.
We directly provide period products to members of the Ottawa community, disseminate critical menstrual health information, run anti-stigma campaigns, and work with the public and private sector to ensure meaningful attempts are made to provide equitable access to products for all Canadians.
We started Period Packs to address the immediate community need for menstrual products but it quickly grew in scope. We set out to find long-term solutions to the complex barriers menstruators are facing while trying to access products.
Why did you partner with the City of Ottawa to offer free period products and what are the details of this partnership?
It was always our goal to partner with the public sector to develop long-term solutions to address menstrual inequity in Canada. We believe we need comprehensive policies to address the widespread disparities in access.
When we started to build a relationship with the City of Ottawa and saw how interested city councilors were in finding meaningful solutions to this community problem we seized the opportunity to collaborate and try and solve the issue of menstrual inequity in Ottawa.
Before launching this pilot we worked with the city to expedite the distribution of menstrual products into priority neighborhoods.
The pilot has been a true partnership. Period Packs worked with the city to develop the program and ensure it would meet the needs we had identified from working directly in the community. The city is responsible for stocking the community centres in seven priority neighborhoods in the city. Period Packs supports the Community Houses in those communities, which act as a secondary access point for the products.
Why is period equity important for Canada?
Period Equity is a universally important issue. Health and sanitation policies should be informed by real, lived experiences. We need to expand the scope of Canada's occupational health and sanitation standards to include menstrual products.
Currently, we are letting Canadians down.
What do you feel is the single biggest impact someone can make to move period equity forward?
Ouf, that is a hard one. This is a dynamic problem and so it requires a multifaceted solution. We all have a different role to play to help end menstrual inequity. I think the most accessible contribution is to talk openly and honestly about periods and menstrual health.
What are Period Packs' big goals over the next 24 months?
We are focused on the success of this pilot and solidifying access to menstrual products in all city facilities from 2022 onwards. We are also very excited about a national campaign we are launching on May 28th.
We're so excited to be partnering with the Period Packs and providing the City of Ottawa with biodegradable pads. It serves as an example of how NGOs, government agencies, and social enterprises can work together to make powerful impacts toward achieving period equity in Canada.