Immigrant Women Work to Address Period Poverty in BC

In today’s world, where access to menstrual products should be recognized as a basic right, many individuals still face an often overlooked challenge: period poverty. This pervasive issue refers to the lack of access to menstrual products, insufficient education on their proper use, and inadequate sanitation facilities [1]. It affects over 500 million people worldwide [2], with those experiencing low income, homelessness, or marginalization being at the highest risk. In Canada, one in three individuals struggle to afford period products [3]

The Hidden Consequences

Beyond the financial burden, period poverty has far-reaching consequences that compromise the well-being and dignity of individuals who menstruate. This issue affects diverse groups, including cisgender women, cisgender girls, transgender individuals, and non-binary people. The inability to access menstrual products leads to missed school or work days, jeopardizes physical health, and has a negative impact on self-esteem and mental health.

“No one should have to choose between paying for food and menstrual products. Period products should be available to people who can’t afford them. That’s why we’re funding community projects to help people access the supplies they need.”  – Shelia Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Taking Action: The Period Poverty Pilot Project Fund

In 2022, United Way British Columbia (BC) launched the Period Poverty Pilot Project Fund on behalf of the BC Government and its Period Poverty Task Force. This initiative builds upon United Way’s five years of work in addressing period poverty, starting with the nationwide launch of the Tampon Tuesday campaign. The Period Poverty Pilot Project Fund supports short-term, impact-focused pilot projects that test innovative models for increasing access to free menstrual products throughout BC. Later this year the Task Force will examine the outcomes of these projects and provide further recommendations to the government by March 2024.

Amplifying the Voices of Immigrant and Refugee Women to address Period Poverty in BC

As one of the recipients of the Period Poverty Pilot Project Fund, we are proud to support the B.C. government’s efforts to reduce period poverty in the province. Our aim with this project is to foster lasting change and contribute to development of inclusive public policies that consider the perspectives and lived experiences of immigrant and refugee women, ultimately reducing period poverty and fostering equity for this marginalized group.

Our project focuses on identifying and addressing intersectional barriers that hinder our community from accessing environmentally sustainable and culturally safe menstrual products. From February to June 2023, we have conducted comprehensive surveys and focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by our community. We have also distributed environmentally sustainable and reusable products while providing trauma-informed and culturally sensitive education on their usage.

We are honored to join an exceptional collective of organizations working tirelessly towards a comprehensive and sustainable response to period poverty in B.C. Through our work, we strive to amplify the voices of immigrant and refugee women, ensuring their perspectives and needs are at the forefront of this critical movement. 

Thank you to the BC Government and United Way BC for funding of this important project. We also acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our product suppliers, Joni and Aisle, two local small businesses that create sustainable period products in alignment with the province’s commitment to eliminating period poverty.

Stay Informed

As we work on completing the project and writing the final report, we invite you to stay tuned for updates from United Way BC and the Government of BC regarding the findings and recommendations that will shape our collective efforts against period poverty. Together, we will continue to work towards a more equitable future for all.

Province of British Columbia
United Way BC


[1] Michel, J., Mettler, A., Schönenberger, S., & Gunz, D. (2022). Period poverty: why it should be everybody’s business. Journal of Global Health Reports, 6. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from

[2] The World Bank. Menstrual hygiene management enables women and girls to reach their full potential. 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2023 from

[3] Government of Canada. News release: Government of Canada one step closer to ensuring free access to menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces. 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2023 from