Nova Scotia

Students throw 'pad party' in Yarmouth to raise awareness of period poverty

Samara Pemberton and Alyssa Steffens threw a party Monday night. The two Nova Scotia Community College students in Yarmouth threw a "pad party" to help support women who can't afford to buy period products.

'So, why can't we have free tampons and pads to use to keep us feeling clean and comfortable?'

Two NSCC students raised approximately $950 worth of period products at an event Monday night. (Raelynn Deveau/submitted)

Samara Pemberton and Alyssa Steffens threw a party Monday night.

The two Nova Scotia Community College students in Yarmouth staged a "pad party" to help support women who can't afford to buy period products.

Pemberton and Steffens are in their final year of a social services program at NSCC's Burridge Campus.

"When you go to the washroom, you're given free toilet paper to use so you feel clean and you feel comfortable," said Pemberton. "So, why can't we have free tampons and pads to use to keep us feeling clean and comfortable?"

British Columbia recently mandated free menstrual products in public schools, and other recent efforts in P.E.I. and Dartmouth have cropped up to bring attention to this issue.

Some of the products donated Monday in Yarmouth. (Samara Pemberton/submitted)

Plan International Canada, which supports child rights and helps women and girls, produced a survey that revealed almost two-thirds of females between ages 14 and 55 in Canada have had to miss out on an activity because of hygiene concerns around their period.

"Six out of 10 women and girls said they'd lied about their period, or hid their products, or that they had been teased by their friends, family, or colleagues," said Plan International adviser Saifullah Chaudhry. "This is an important point, that stigma exists. Men need to be educated."  

Helping to demystify periods

Monday's event at a local pub and restaurant included information on period poverty and on the variety of products available. Steffens baked a uterus-shaped red velvet cake for the occasion.

They gathered approximately $950 worth of product.

This cake was baked by Alyssa Steffens. (Samara Pemberton/submitted)

"We want to demystify menstruation — we also talked about remedies to help women have better periods by improving diet and increasing exercise," said Pemberton.

The students took donations, including menstrual products and purses.

"Frenchys donated 25 purses, and we're looking for more," said Steffens. "We'll be filling those with tampons and pads as well as liners, wipes, and hand sanitizers. And we'll donate these packed period purses to organizations that help women."

Those organizations include The Tri-County Women's Centre, Juniper House, the Food Bank, and SHYFT Youth Services. "We're also doing brown paper bags for those who don't want purses, just to have different options for different people and age groups," said Steffens.

Food insecurity often indicates period poverty

Last year in Yarmouth, Pemberton and Steffens helped organize a community project for the food bank called Hygiene For Humanity. With the help of a $2,000 grant, they were able to raise $8,500 worth of toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pads and tampons.

"They flew off the shelves at the food bank," said Pemberton.

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With files from Information Morning

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