A Victoria organization is participating in a provincial research project aimed at learning more about barriers faced by people living in poverty.
The United Way and B.C. government have partnered up for the Period Promise Research Project, giving out grants to 15 non-profit agencies across the province to provide free menstrual products to those in need.
In Victoria, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and Victoria Youth Empowerment Society will be receiving $95,000 to purchase pads and tampons to be distributed to the region’s low-income community.
While an estimated one in seven Canadian girls have missed school due to their periods, the extent of the impact that a lack of access, or ‘period poverty,’ has on low-income communities is relatively unknown.
That’s why the research project aims to learn how widespread and detrimental the need for these products is across B.C. Participating non-profits will track the number of people served, which products are used and provide a survey that asks participants how a lack of access to menstrual products has impacted their lives.
Margaret Forbes, the director of support services at Victoria’s Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, noted the organization was well-suited for the program since it already offers food and hygiene products at its shopping pantry.
“We know that people are paying 70 per cent of their income to rent here,” Forbes said. “Having access and offsetting the cost of these products which are really an essential for women would be huge … It’s $10 to $20 every month that is a grocery cost that could be offset.”
Forbes said the research portion of the project appealed to the society too.
“It’s a big issue for women and girls because they need them in order to function in their day,” Forbes added. “I think that kind of data is really going to drive the province’s decision to make [menstrual products] more widely available for not just one year. So we’ll be encouraging people to take the survey … This is a way for people to speak up about how this issue limits their lives and the benefits they can see in receiving these products.”
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul expects to begin distributing the products at its downtown location (833 Yates St.) in early August.