Industry leader Always is committed to building young people’s confidence by providing millions of Canadians with access to period education and products.
Every day, millions of young people worldwide experience their period for the first time, data actually shows that every minute a girl gets her first period. It’s a time made easier by understanding what’s happening to their bodies and having access to proper menstrual products. However, what about those experiencing their first period who don’t have access to these products that are so often taken for granted?
What is period poverty?
Period poverty refers to a lack of access to both menstrual products and an education that helps young people better understand their period and the changes resulting from puberty. Not limited to just developing nations, a lack of access to period protection impacts young people worldwide — including those across Canada. The stigmas associated with puberty often surpass traditional borders, and while periods are a natural part of the growing-up experience, society stereotypes menstruation as dirty and embarrassing.
“Periods are associated with negative feelings from an early age. Imagine being in school and not having the period products you need to feel protected to go about your day,” says Elizabeth Dubejsky, Brand Director for Always. “This can put young people’s confidence, dignity, and education at risk, especially if it means they’re less likely to participate in their education.”
A lack of access to proper protection can cause anxiety at a time when most young people experience their lowest self-confidence. In Canada, 1 in 7 young people admits to missing school because they lack access to period protection, and more than half of girls say they lose confidence during puberty.
How can normalizing period conversations spark change?
While society can’t change overnight, Canadians are responsible for normalizing important period conversations, destigmatizing the experience for young people, and empowering them to speak openly about what they are going through. While the issue of period poverty may differ in prevalence from country to country, “the major commonality is the secrecy around periods,” says Elizabeth.
If we’re not talking openly about menstruation, we’re not discussing period poverty. If we hope to achieve menstrual equality, society must take steps to normalize these conversations.
What role do brands have in ending period poverty?
Always has made it a mission to ensure all young people have access to the period products they need to keep them in school and build their confidence. For more than 35 years, the Always Puberty and Confidence Education Program has worked to educate girls, teachers, and parents on puberty education, offering free educational resources and samples to help young people better understand and manage the changes they experience during this time.
In Canada, Always has donated over 10 million period products since the launch of their End Period Poverty initiative in 2018. Earlier this year, Shoppers Drug Mart and Always worked in partnership with the Government of Manitoba, committing to provide the province with nearly 10 million menstrual products and 900 dispensers for various school settings over the next three years. Last year, a similar pledge was also made with the Ontario Ministry of Education by Shoppers Drug Mart, Always and other manufactures to provide six million menstrual products to the province’s public schools, pledging to donate a total of 18 million products and 1200 dispensers over the next 3 years.
In a society, every sector has a role to play.
Always can’t do it alone. The first step to achieving menstrual equality starts with building a more confident generation. As Canadians, we need to help break down stigmas and normalize period conversations.