Saskatchewan

Bloody expensive: purse project helping homeless women tackle the cost of periods

Inspired by a charity based in Ontario, Teri Kot has started collecting gently used handbags and feminine hygiene products to pass along to women who need a hand up.

Regina woman brings Period Purse Project to the city

Teri Kot is collecting gently used or new handbags and feminine menstruation products to pass along to women's shelters in Regina. (Teri Kot/Submitted)

It's a taboo topic and it gets more uncomfortable for women when finances are tight — how do you deal with menstruation? 

One Regina woman is trying to change that through the Regina Period Purse Project.

"I have two cousins that participated in this event that live in Toronto that inspired me to run the project here in Regina," Teri Kot said.

Kot is taking donations of new or gently used handbags, as well as sanitary supplies like tampons, pads, and menstrual cups. All donations will then be passed along to places like Carmichael Outreach, the YWCA and other Regina-area women's shelters.

"Unfortunately, it's an area of life that people don't talk that openly about," Kot said.

"I don't know why, but in society, women in need, that are maybe in a transition home or homeless, are kind of hidden in society. I don't think there's a lot of awareness of how much need there is for this kind of program."

Kot's inspiration comes from The Period Purse in Toronto. It was launched by Jana Girdauskas in 2017 and has now expanded to include nine additional chapters across Ontario. Since then, nearly 4,700 purses and more than 5,500 period packs have been donated. 

Over the last several years, there has been a concerted effort to tackle "period poverty" in Canada and raise awareness of the cost of menstruation.

More than two million women in Canada live at or below Statistics Canada's low-income measure. 

In 2015, the Government of Saskatchewan announced it was ending provincial sales tax on feminine hygiene products. The same year, the federal government announced a GST exemption for tampons, sanitary belts, napkins and menstrual cups. 

But women still face costs to deal with their menstruation. According to CanadianMenstruators.ca, nearly 18 million Canadian women between 12 and 49 years old spent $519.9 million on menstrual hygiene products in 2014. 

Kot will be collecting purses and products until Dec. 15.

She says depending on how successful the program is, she plans to offer the program annually and in future years, she may open it up to other hygiene products like shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste and deodorant. 

To get more information or to donate yourself, reach out on Facebook through the Regina Period Purse Project page, or email ReginaPeriodPurse@gmail.com

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