Immigrant Women Advancing Menstrual Equity in BC

Did you know that 51% of people who menstruate in BC struggle to purchase menstrual supplies and 26% have no access to menstrual supplies when needed? BC is making history as the first place worldwide to create a dedicated Task Force to tackle this pressing issue. PIRS is proud to contribute to this groundbreaking effort by amplifying the voices of immigrant and refugee women, helping to shape inclusive public policies that address period poverty and promote equity for marginalized groups.

Period Poverty Pilot Project

Last year, we announced our participation in the BC Government’s Period Poverty Pilot Project Fund. This initiative empowered community organizations to test innovative solutions for increasing access to free menstrual products across the province. From February to June 2023, we 

  • distributed 13,500 environmentally friendly and reusable products, 
  • provided trauma-informed and culturally sensitive education on their use, and 
  • conducted comprehensive surveys and focus groups to better understand the unique challenges faced by our community when accessing such products. 

The Province has now released the Period Poverty Task Force Report for the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR), outlining a multi-faceted strategy to achieve menstrual equity for all British Columbians. We are honored that our insights and recommendations from the pilot project have been incorporated into this important report.

BC Period Poverty Task Force Report: Recommendations for the Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

The Report explains how period poverty is exacerbated by intersecting systemic barriers such as poverty, racism, ableism, and lack of culturally relevant education and healthcare access. For newcomer communities, additional challenges like language barriers, cultural stigma around menstruation, and the three-month waiting period for provincial health coverage intensify the issue.

Based on the insights from our pilot project, the Task Force recommends the government to:

  • Offer menstrual products and education through English language groups and cultural events.
  • Ensure access to a variety of products, including sustainable options, to respect cultural preferences.
  • Recruit multilingual peer workers to provide language-specific menstrual health support.

Other key recommendations include:

  • Legislative reviews to ensure that all washrooms provide menstrual supplies and appropriate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) provisions.
  • Provision of menstrual supplies in public washrooms and those under the jurisdiction of the Government of BC, prioritizing access for those experiencing period poverty.
  • Changing the medical categorization of menstrual supplies to ensure coverage under government and private benefits and assistance programs.

The Task Force suggests a holistic approach—from free menstrual product distribution to overhauling medical policies, implementing comprehensive menstrual education, and advocating for sustainable systemic change.

Join us in our efforts to address period poverty:

Together, we can work towards a future where everyone has access to the supplies they need, fostering dignity, equity, and justice for all.