We’ve all been there. That panic in the bathroom when your period arrives unannounced and you realize you have to ball up some toilet paper, because your bag is a bottomless abyss of stuff with no pads or tampons to be found, the day you actually need them.
What if instead of girls and women having to face this challenge, menstrual hygiene products were always available, just like how toilet paper is always there. If every washroom we went into in North America, didn’t have toilet paper there would be a mass outcry. Can you even imagine what would happen?!
Time for Take Off
In early December, a woman was forced to pay $15 for a box of tampons at the Calgary International Airport because none of the menstrual hygiene vending machines (are all of these things from the 80s?!) worked in the bathrooms. The unknown woman took the tampons she needed from the extremely overpriced box she purchased and left the rest for women who might also face the same challenge she did. Her act of generosity has inspired another woman, this time at a different airport.
On January 9th, at the Vancouver International Airport, Kyla Kitzul was transiting through the airport. She was in need of a pad or tampon. 2 of the 3 bathrooms she went to didn’t have a menstrual hygiene dispenser at all. “In a second bathroom near the customs area, Kitzul said she was able to purchase a pad from a machine for one dollar.”
When Kyla brought the issue to the attention of airport employees, they offered her disposable underwear meant for people with incontinence. She knew this wouldn’t cut it, so like the woman from the Calgary airport, Kyla purchased over-priced pads and also left the remaining for other women who may be in need.
And let’s be honest, airports are probably one of the most important places to have menstrual hygiene products stocked in the washrooms. A long flight without a tampon or pad definitely doesn’t sound ideal!
Menstrual Hygiene Products: A necessity, not a want
Both of these instances highlight the need for free menstrual hygiene products in areas such as airports and businesses. “It would be cool if they were just free for everybody. They give toilet paper away for free. Why can’t they give pads and tampons away for free?” Menstrual hygiene products are a necessity, not a want. So, shouldn’t they be treated as such?
Two states are making strides towards making free menstrual hygiene products a reality. California and Illinois have recently introduced legislation requiring public schools to offer menstrual hygiene products for free. In addition to California and Illinois, “New York City mandates free tampons and pads in schools, particularly focusing on low-income students.” Isn’t it time, we all take note and ensure that menstrual hygiene products are available and free in public spaces.
At Ellebox, one of our goals is stocking businesses with menstrual hygiene products for their clients and employees. When businesses stock their bathrooms with menstrual hygiene products, they are making a huge step toward equality. It reduces the woman’s need to leave work to buy period products and female employees will know their employer cares about them!