Menstrual products are now available free of charge in all universal washrooms at Vancouver Community College (VCC) thanks to a pilot project led by the Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College (SUVCC) and the college’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee.
As part of the two-year project called All About ME – Menstrual Equity, VCC has installed menstrual product dispensers in all 13 campus washrooms that are designated as universal or all-gender. The accessible “free-vend” dispensers, which do not charge money, are designed by Aunt Flow, a company committed to ensuring free access to menstrual products across North America.
“There’s still a lot of stigma around menstruation and accessing menstrual products,” says Sydney Sullivan, Executive Director of the SUVCC. The SUVCC has been providing free menstrual supplies in SUVCC offices for many years and in January 2020 signed on as part of the United Way’s Period Promise campaign.”
Hoping to expand on this initiative, the SUVCC partnered with VCC’s EDI committee and consulted with Neal Adolph from the United Way to develop the All about ME – Menstrual Equity pilot project. In addition to installing and maintaining the free dispensers, the college will also closely track their usage over the next two years to determine the feasibility of equipping additional washrooms in the future.
“We’re the only college making this kind commitment to give the products away for free,” says Reba Noel, Dean of Indigenous Initiatives and VCC Lead for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Period poverty is an issue in post-secondary and this pilot project is a great move for VCC.”
According to new research by the United Way British Columbia, 51 per cent of people who menstruate (including non-binary and trans people) said they have struggled to afford menstrual products, 26 per cent had menstruated with no products available, and an average 24 per cent had missed school, work, or other events due to lack of menstrual products.
“I don’t want anyone to miss school because they don’t have pads, or have to choose between tampons and food,” says Reba.
According to many menstrual equity advocates, a key to eliminating period poverty is to begin treating menstrual products as necessities like toilet paper or soap. “We shouldn’t have to bring our own menstrual products if on one else has to bring their own toilet paper,” declares a recent blog post by Aunt Flow. “Imagine having to put a quarter in a machine in exchange for a drop of soap…”
Join us in making menstrual equity a reality at VCC. Visit the new Aunt Flow dispensers in all universal washrooms:
Building A, room 2141A
Building A, room 3081 (Library - Level 3)
Building A, room 3082 (Library - Level 3)
Building B, room G204
Building B, room 5203