After an inspiring four weeks, United Way BC’s 2023 Period Promise Campaign, presented by Pacific Blue Cross in partnership with CUPE 1816, achieved remarkable results, exemplifying the power of collective action in addressing period poverty.
Communities across BC collected more than 500,000 menstrual products at 73 collection sites and raised more than $53,000 to support the initiative. The count is still ongoing as product donations continue to roll in.
Thanks to the Period Promise campaign, more than 100 community organizations will receive free period products to distribute to their clients, meaning the campaign will serve more frontline agencies than ever before.
The campaign not only provided immediate relief but also fostered ongoing conversations about menstrual equity, driving meaningful policy changes and community support systems.
The 2023 Period Promise Campaign aimed to tackle the pervasive issue of period poverty, as the rising cost of living and inflation makes affording and accessing menstrual products more challenging.
Dollars are also stretched for donors which impacts supporters’ ability to give. We are thankful that despite these difficult times, communities rallied together to make this year’s campaign a success.
Our Period Promise Research Project revealed that 51% of respondents to a public survey indicated they had struggled to purchase products for themselves, and 26% said they had gone through a period without having menstrual products available to them. Too many people continue to miss out on work, school, social events and accessing essential services.
Community supporters mobilize to eradicate period poverty
The success of the 2023 Period Promise Campaign relies heavily on the dedication and support of individuals who wholeheartedly champion the cause. We express our deepest gratitude to the community champions who stood beside United Way BC, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to creating a more equitable society for all.
Soroptimist International of the TriCities, serving the communities of Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, held a collection event at NO FRILLS Coquitlam at Como Lake Village on May 28.
Organizer Megan Eastwood says the volunteer organization collected 3,753 items and raised $250 cash. The group has been involved in the Period Promise campaign since 2022.
“Menstruation is a normal bodily function that is not a choice for 50% of the world. It is also a normal part of a woman’s reproductive system, which ultimately allows our species to continue. It should NOT be a barrier to participating in daily life, nor should women have to choose between period products or food/heating,” Megan says.
Gail Neufeld, Vice-President of the North Okanagan Labour Council, spearheaded the cause at her organization, and has been purchasing menstrual products to donate to the campaign for five years.
“I have come to tears more than once,” she says of the impact the Period Promise campaign has on people’s lives. “I am so grateful to be a part of this great campaign!”
United Steelworkers District 3, representing over 50,000 workers in Western Canada, showed their Local Love by hosting a barbeque and fundraiser in support of Period Promise.
In Kamloops, more than 20,000 menstrual products were donated at the United Way Xchange Community Collaborative Centre on Tranquille Road at a collection event on June 7.
Thompson-Nicola Cariboo Campaign Manager Chelsea Ingram says she was overwhelmed by the community’s support.
“Every year more people become aware of it so when we show up with our posters and our boxes people are very excited to get involved,” Chelsea says. “We’ve had so many community members step up this year to support, whether it’s through having an internal campaign at their business, or being a public facing drop off location, or just individuals wanting to support and drop off product.”
RE/MAX Kamloops recognized their role in corporate social responsibility and delivered $1000 worth of products to United Way BC! Interior Savings, Forward Law LLP, and numerous other businesses also contributed to the campaign. Your enthusiasm for the cause is truly inspiring. By aligning your values with action, you have set an example for others to follow, demonstrating that companies can be catalysts for meaningful social change.
Days for Girls, an international organization that makes washable, reusable, and environmentally-friendly menstrual kits for girls, donated 40 kits to United Way BC’s campaign in Kamloops.
“Every menstruator must have access to what they need, or otherwise, we are a poorer world,” says Terry-Lynn Stone, president of the Days for Girls Canada board.
In Penticton, City Hall agreed to host menstrual product drop off bins at three civic facilities.
“Growing inflationary pressures has put that much more of a strain on people who menstruate to potentially decide between purchasing groceries or basic hygiene products,” says Jamie Lloyd-Smith, Social Development Specialist at the City of Penticton. “Eliminating barriers to people who menstruate – including women, girls, nonbinary people and trans folk – is one way to advance health equity and eliminate poverty in our community.”
In Kelowna, the Hospital Employees’ Union stepped up to be a public facing drop off location. The HEU is a fierce ally in the pursuit of a more inclusive, equitable and healthy society.
In Central Northern Vancouver Island, the Vancouver Island Regional Library shared with the public that it was a product drop-off location and decided to offer free menstrual products in its washrooms.
“The library is a neutral space where there is no stigma in entering. By having the period products in our washroom, it makes it easy for folks who need them to come and take what they want,” says Joëlle Samson, Library Manager at the Campbell River branch.
Future leaders who volunteer with the Nanaimo Youth 20/20 Can team, under the umbrella of Volunteer Nanaimo, collected more than 800 menstrual items to help alleviate period poverty.
Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar in Port Alberni offered 10% off a client’s next service if they brought a donation to their business for the Period Promise campaign. “Let’s face it, periods can suck, so let’s try and make it a little better for those who need an extra helping hand!” they wrote on Instagram.
Thank you to all of our dedicated regional partners for supporting the Period Promise campaign!
Government officials step up
We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the government officials who utilized their platforms to amplify the Period Promise campaign and raise public awareness around menstrual equity.
The City of Kamloops signed a policy statement committing to offer free menstrual products in washroom facilities for both staff and public use.
The majority of those benefitting from the service during a pilot project who chose to participate in a survey reported feeling less stigma, more confidence expressing their needs for period products, and an ability to better participate in activities thanks to this increased access to an essential resource.
“We will be expanding our provision of free menstrual products into facilities that make the most sense based on public input and potential for positive impact,” says City of Kamloops Human Resources and Safety Director Colleen Quigley.
Bonita Zarrillo, Member of Parliament representing Port Moody-Coquitlam, highlighted the Period Promise campaign in the House of Commons.
“With a 6% increase in the price of personal healthcare products, even more Canadians cannot afford menstrual products, like pads, tampons and cups. Lack of hygiene products causes BC residents who experience menstruation to miss school, work and social gatherings,” Zarrillo told MPs in Parliament.
Zarillo also attended the Soroptimists collection drive in her riding and encouraged others to join her.
“The participation of people who menstruate in public life is a must and public spaces need to make that a reality for all,” Zarillo says. “The New Democrats women’s caucus continues to advance policy in the labor code, in public workplaces and in communities.”
Kelli Paddon, Chilliwack-Kent MLA and BC’s Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, is another dedicated public servant who championed the cause and contributed to the campaign’s success.
Paddon is an advocate for removing barriers to menstrual products and says she is committed to working with partners to take real action on this issue. She collaborates with groups, such as United Way BC and Project AIM, to help end period poverty. Paddon sported a menstrual hygiene bracelet alongside BC Health Minister Adrian Dix on World Menstrual Hygiene Day and shared a photo of the entire BC NDP Caucus holding period products in support of the campaign.
“As an advocate and a mother with a teen daughter, I believe that all public facilities should have free products in their washrooms. That’s why, through the Ministry of Education, all B.C. public schools are required to provide free products. It’s also why we continue to support community-led initiatives because the more we raise awareness, the more we reduce the stigma and ensure people get the products they need to participate equally in community life,” Paddon says.
Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill, shared a video on Twitter encouraging organizations and businesses to sign onto United Way’s Period Promise policy agreement and promoted the “Fill the Bus” collection event at Tillicum Mall.
Thank you to the municipal, provincial and federal elected representatives for your invaluable support and commitment to this vital cause.
Advocates use their voices
Menstrual equity advocates took a proactive stance in advocating for policy changes to address period poverty, and shined a light on United Way BC’s Period Promise campaign.
Angelene Prakash, Co-Chair for the Period Promise Community Action Group and menstrual equity activist used her social media channels and spoke to media to promote this year’s campaign.
Nikki Hill is a public policy and campaign expert with Earnscliffe Strategies and serves as the chairwoman of the Government of BC’s Period Poverty Task Force. She wrote an op-ed, published in the Vancouver Sun, encouraging decision-makers, workplaces and public institutions to move policy change forward at a faster pace.
“The Government of B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to require menstrual products in the K-12 system in 2019 and these factors were centred in the policy. While we share the approach and will continue to work with advocates to advance menstrual products being available in washrooms as equitably as soap and water, truly addressing period poverty will require systemic changes,” Hill writes.
Sussanne Skidmore, president of the BC Federation of Labour, utilized her platform to champion Period Promise and menstrual equity, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.
By sharing stories, educating supporters, and rallying support, you have helped break down the barriers of silence and stigma surrounding menstruation. Your advocacy has sparked conversations, challenged misconceptions, and brought this critical issue to the forefront.
Partners make it all possible
The campaign also garnered significant support from union and corporate sponsors who recognized the importance of addressing period poverty. Their generous contributions played a crucial role in amplifying the impact of the campaign, enabling United Way BC to provide a sustainable supply of menstrual products to those in need.
Since 2019, Pacific Blue Cross has been working in partnership with CUPE Local 1816 to make a healthy difference in the lives of British Columbians through their ongoing support of the Period Promise collection campaign. Their support goes far beyond sponsorship. They were early adapters of the Period Promise Policy Agreement, they run joint collection campaigns annually, and representatives actively participate in events, initiatives, and promotions of the campaign. We can’t thank them enough for their leadership and contributions towards building healthy communities across BC.
Always and Tampax have been long-time sponsors of the campaign. This year saw them step up their support to include a record number of donated pads and tampons that went a long way to helping us reach our campaign goal this year. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to helping end period poverty in BC.
We thank CUPE BC for joining us as a provincial sponsor this year and for their commitment to making it easier for people across BC to access the product they need, when they need it.
Regionally, returning sponsors like Clark Wilson LLP have made a huge impact through their support. Not only did they run another successful collection campaign, fully endorsed and supported by their leadership, but they also managed to mobilize volunteers from across the organization to help package donations to be delivered to non-profit agencies in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
We’d also like to thank Campbell & Schreurs Chartered Professional Accountants in Kamloops, together with Radio NL, K97.5FM and New Country 103.1FM, all part of the Stingray group, for the great support and coverage they provided of our June 7th collection event that resulted in thousands of product donations for the region.
And special thanks to Two Small Men with Big Hearts Moving for volunteering their staff, trucks and experience to help in the delivery of menstrual product across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
We are so incredibly thankful to all of our amazing sponsors for their continued support.
While the 2023 campaign has come to an end, United Way BC continues its unwavering commitment to end period poverty. In the coming weeks, hundreds of thousands of donated menstrual products will be distributed to frontline non-profit agencies and United Way Food Hubs across the regions we serve.
Those who would still like to make a monetary donation can do so on our dedicated webpage here.
If you have questions or are looking to get involved in next year’s campaign, email us at email@example.com
Through partnerships, community engagement, and generous support from individuals, corporations, unions and community groups, the campaign has made tangible progress in providing menstrual products to those in need and sparking important conversations about menstrual equity.
Let us continue to stand united in our efforts to eradicate period poverty, ensuring menstruation is never a barrier to anyone’s well-being and success.