At its March 12 meeting, Vancouver City Council adopted the motion "Providing Free Menstrual Products in City of Vancouver Civic Facilities Washrooms" which sets the wheels in motion for free period products at municipal facilities.
The VDLC has supported the Period Promise campaign of the United Way of the Lower Mainland since its inception, and the Tampon Tuesday campaign prior to that. We applaud Council's decision to make a #PeriodPromise for the city and help to end period poverty.
The following remarks were submitted in writing by VDLC President Stephen von Sychowski in support of the motion:
My name is Stephen von Sychowski, I’m the President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, representing roughly 60,000 unionized public and private sector workers in the Vancouver area.
I am also a member of the Board of Directors of United Way of the Lower Mainland, of which Period Promise is an initiative.
We are very proud to support this motion “Providing Free Menstrual Products in City of Vancouver Civic Facilities Washrooms”.
The VDLC has been a supporter of the Period Promise campaign from day one, and a supporter of its predecessor, Tampon Tuesday, prior to that.
Period poverty is a real problem affecting many people in our communities. It may not be readily apparent around us on a day to day basis, but for many people period poverty causes isolation and hardship.
Menstrual products are not especially cheap, which means they can be out of reach not only for those experiencing extreme poverty such as homelessness, but for the working poor.
When the choice must be made between purchasing period products and food, or paying the rent, these products may not make the cut. This can mean lost days of work and/or school, which only reinforces the cycle of poverty.
But the Period Promise campaign has been making a real difference. Not only has its collection campaigns meant products reaching those who need them in the here-and-now, but the advocacy aspect of the campaign has led to actions by the provincial and some municipal governments and school boards to address the issue, as well as countless institutions, labour organizations, and businesses taking up the cause.
The City of Vancouver has an opportunity to position itself as a leader on the municipal scene for this movement.
Making these products available at city facilities to all who need them will be a victory for equity and inclusivity. It will be a step in removing the barrier of ability to pay from a product which is a necessity, regardless of economic status.
It’s just the right thing to do.
I also want to take a moment to applaud the inclusiveness of this motion, which proposes to provide period products in washrooms and not merely in “women’s washrooms”. As we know, washrooms in many facilities are still gendered. But it is important to remember when looking at this issue that the scope of persons who may have need for period products is broader that only those who identify as women, or who were assigned female at birth.
While ensuring gender neutral washrooms is something to consider, if that has not already been done or is not already in the works, it is important for this discussion today that at least it is recognized that these products should be available in all washrooms.
Thank you for that and thank you for taking action on this important issue.