The Homeless Period Project is a collaboration project between the Rotaract Club of Ryerson, School of Occupational and Public Health Course Union, Women in Information Technology Management (WITM), and Environment and Urban Sustainability Students' Association (EUSSA). It is a non-profit project aiming to collect menstrual hygiene products to be donated to homeless women and trans people in Toronto. According to a research paper published by the Canadian Observatory on Homeless Research, at least 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year - 27.3% of those are women, with 18.7% being youth. This means that every month, at least thousands of homeless women or trans people in Canada are placed in a crisis situation. Being homeless or on low-income puts many homeless women and trans people for a variety of health risks. Along with their living conditions, they are more susceptible to infections due to improper menstrual hygiene and coping with periods and its effects are much more difficult.
Pads and tampons are a necessity to women or anyone who gets their period. However, in Canada a box of pads or tampons may range from $3 to $11. Although this is not an issue to most people who can easily afford these products, this places a great burden on anyone who is homeless or living in poverty. Unfortunately all these products are an essential need due to a biological function women cannot control. Pads and tampons are massively underfunded at homeless shelters - only abused women’s shelters distribute feminine products freely. Most people do not really think to donate such products because the issue is overlooked, and some people forget that these products are basic needs. Feminine hygiene products are often listed as an “urgently needed” request on homeless shelter wish lists or websites - however, it is “one of the most-requested, least-received items”.
Lack of access to such resources results in many women having to resort to tissues or plastic. Many women also have little to no access to showers or clean bathrooms. For those that do, sometimes there are limits to hours in which they can use bathrooms or showers in shelters or public areas.
A woman should not have to put herself or her health at risk due to limited access to resources. This is not a feminist issue. This is a poverty issue, an economic issue, a public health issue - and this about bringing dignity to women. Although there are organizations or support programs that provide people with food, shelter and clothing, not many support menstrual hygiene.
From February 5 until March 8, we will be collecting donations of unopened boxes of pads, tampons, wipes, underwear, etc.! 100% of proceeds will be donated towards The YMCA Sprott House and Mary's Home. Care packages will also be distributed at 6 St. Joseph on March 8 - International Women's Day. Product donations can be dropped off at TRS 1137 and POD 250. All funds raised online through YouCaring will be used to purchase more menstrual hygiene products for donations and care packages. The Rotaract Club of Ryerson will be also matching online monetary donations of up to $500 - so please donate, donate, donate. Last but not least, please spread the word! The more people involved, the more we can make a difference. :)