Scotland just became one of the first countries in the world to provide free feminine hygiene products to low-income girls and women with a new pilot project in the city of Aberdeen.
Back by the Scottish government and led by the Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE)—an organization that focuses on improving health and well-being for low-income individuals—the six-month program will help about 1,000 local women by giving out tampons and pads at selected schools and food banks.
Which leads us to ask: why don’t we have this in Canada?
For years, Canadian women lobbied for subsidized feminine hygiene products with the argument that taxing a necessity unfairly targeted women. In 2015, Canada finally eliminated the “Tampon Tax,” cutting GST from the purchase of feminine hygiene products.
Despite this meaningful change, periods remain an added hardship for low-income women experiencing homelessness in Canada, and they’re often forced to use toilet paper and socks in lieu of sanitary products they can’t afford. Of the 235,000 Canadians who experience homelessness, 27 per cent are women.
Chatelaine crunched some numbers this year and found that Canadian women spend, on average, $65.82 on feminine hygiene products annually—and that’s using budget-friendly options. After New York City passed legislation that provides free sanitary products to women in schools, shelters and correctional facilities, Mayor Bill de Blasio explained why the move was needed: “These laws recognize that feminine hygiene products are a necessity—not a luxury.”
As women who menstruate on the reg, we can confirm that pads and tampons aren’t a luxury: they’re a monthly cost akin to groceries, phone bills and rent. It’s time Canada showed up for its menstruating sisters and provided those in need with subsidized—not just tax-free—hygiene products, so they’re accessible to all—not just women who can afford them.