Impact Stories

It’s pricey to have your period, now it’s even more expensive thanks to inflation. United Way BC’s Period Promise Campaign aims to increase access to essential products 

As menstrual health remains a critical issue for people in need, United Way British Columbia’s 2023 Period Promise campaign, presented by Pacific Blue Cross in partnership with CUPE Local 1816, runs from May 16th to June 13th to help alleviate period poverty.   

This year we are hoping to collect more than 700,000 menstrual products to distribute to local communities across the province!  

Last year’s historic campaign saw an overwhelming response and was a testament to the generosity of individuals, schools, community organizations, unions and workplaces. When we work together, we can build healthy, caring, and inclusive communities!   

“United Way British Columbia has led a remarkable effort to draw attention to the impact of not having adequate access to menstrual products,” says Rob Chiarello, SVP, People and Culture at Pacific Blue Cross. 

“As cost of living continues to rise and inflation impacts essential items supporting this year’s Period Promise campaign is more important than ever. Through donations of menstrual products, financial contributions and organizing our own campaigns, we can raise awareness to help alleviate period poverty in our communities. Together, we can make a meaningful and tangible contribution towards building healthy communities and improving the health and wellbeing of British Columbians.”  

This year you can donate menstrual products, such as pads, tampons, or reusable menstrual cups, give financially, or even organize your own Period Promise campaign!  

Menstrual products are getting more expensive   

The rising cost of living and inflationary increases is making it hard for some people to afford basic health supplies.   

The cost of personal care items like tampons and pads is up 6.2% compared to last year, according to Statistic Canada’s Consumer Price Index.   

“The cost of living has always been a concern, especially amongst vulnerable populations, such as newcomers, immigrants, refugees, and in the last year or so, inflation has certainly shot up quite a bit and has continued to make essential items for individuals and families very challenging to acquire,” says Angelene Prakash, Co-Chair for the Period Promise Community Action Group. 

Angelene Prakash speaking at the Period Poverty Task Force announcement in May 2022.

The consequences can be serious, including missing work, school, social events, and accessing resources in the community, because the risk of entering a public space without the products they need is too great.  

Research shows accessing menstrual products is a common problem in BC 

We did the research and have the data.  

Half of people surveyed who menstruates in BC have struggled to buy period products at some point in their life.  

United Way BC’s Period Promise Research Project also revealed that 26% of respondents had gone through a period without having menstrual products available to them.  

“The feeling of failure when I am unable to provide menstrual products for my teenage daughter. It’s heartbreaking,” says one respondent.  

“Having access to free products ensured my child had what was needed.”  

Vulnerable people can have their health and dignity compromised due to lack of access.  

“As a child I remember trying to make a pad last all day. I always worried about odours, rashes, leaks etc. It was an awful experience, and I would often just not go to school and have some toilet paper in my underwear at home,” says another survey respondent.  

“Ill-fitting underwear, coupled with the pain of not having any medication for cramps, all culminated in a lot of lost opportunities.” 

Through United Way BC’s Period Promise campaign and collective mobilization efforts, everyone has the chance to be part of the solution!  

Non-profit agencies see increased demand for period products 

Community organizations are seeing increased demand for menstrual products as they grapple with rising costs of supplying other essential items like food. 

“Alot of the families that we serve here are typically below the poverty line. They might be using food banks and connecting to resources in the community, and so having the period products is super important because it’s one less thing that they have to spend money on. It can go towards food, towards their children, so that’s been helpful,” says Shannan Singh, Team Lead at Westcoast Family Centres.  

“I’m really grateful that there is a campaign that exists, that there’s more access to products like this, because these are needed and things like period products are super important.”   

Period Promise

Sarah Chown, Executive Director at AIDS Vancouver, says their clients are already on limited incomes, so affording necessities like menstrual products is a challenge.  

“As we navigate the rising cost of food, we also are having to make choices around what we stock. People are both coming to us more as they see those period products and we can really only rely on donations from the Period Promise campaign to ensure those are reliably available to our community,” Sarah says.

Call to action to address period poverty and menstrual equity

United Way BC is committed to making it easier for everyone to access the menstrual products they need. Every donation raises awareness, reduces stigma, and tackles the vulnerability and isolation caused by period poverty.  

You can get involved by organizing your own Period Promise collection drive, donate menstrual products, or make a monetary contribution to the cause.  

Collection organizers will also happily accept reusable menstrual cups, cloth pads and period underwear, as a great eco-friendly and sustainable alternative. 

These donations are then distributed to community partners that support individuals most in need.  

Other ways to get involved include volunteering to help us get period products into the hands of those who need them, spreading the word about our Period Positive policy shift and ask employers, unions, and governments to take action to support those who menstruate, and join our Facebook group!  

Together, we can make a tangible and meaningful difference in the lives of those facing period poverty and foster positive change!  


Access the 2023 Period Promise Campaign Toolkit: Click here.