'No Woman Without. Period': Campaign provides tampons, pads to Edmonton's homeless

A new Edmonton campaign is helping women on the streets access feminine hygiene products.

'I thought, I'm not just going to post this on Facebook and let this go. I'm going to do something about it'

Edmontonians are encouraged to donate tampons, pads and clean underwear at drop-off locations across the city (Getty Images)

When Scarlet Bjornson saw a woman begging on the street in Edmonton, she handed over some change, stopping to ask how the money would be spent.

"I'll always give it. I don't really care where the money goes to, but for whatever reason, I was compelled to ask," Bjornson recalled during an interview with CBC Radio's' Edmonton AM.

"She said, 'Truthfully, I'd like to get some food or alcohol, but I need to buy tampons.'

"And that kind of just smacked me across the face because I've never had to choose between those two items."

It was a moment that nagged at Bjornson, inspiring her to organize a campaign, No Woman Without.

She hopes the two-week donation drive, which begins Wednesday, will ensure no woman is forced to go without feminine hygiene products, regardless of her financial situation.

Bjornson is hoping to gather enough pads, tampons and new underwear at drop-off locations across the city to help supply thousands of women in need.

Plans for the campaign began on Sept. 21, the morning after Bjornson's encounter with the homeless woman.

Bjornson took to Facebook about her experience and began soliciting donations. The post blew up and she realized there was an unmet need for ongoing donations, and public awareness.

'Do something about it'

"The response has been absolutely amazing," she said. "When the initial response was 'Oh, I've never thought of that before,' I thought, I'm not just going to post this on Facebook and let this go. I'm going to do something about it."

"Twelve hours later, we were organizing a drive, and here we are."

While most shelters and drop-in centres provide these products to their female clients, it's often difficult to keep them in stock, said Bjornson. They are in high demand but rarely donated by the public. 

Anyone interested in donating boxes or packs of feminine hygiene products can take them to any of the six locations listed on the campaign's website.

WIN House and Lurana Shelter Society will benefit from this year's campaign, said Bjornson.

"We're hoping to do this several times a year just to take a little bit of stress off those systems and turn it into a non-profit and go from there," she said.

"We weren't even set up yet and people were dropping off donations so it's a little overwhelming and heartwarming for sure."

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.