United Way Southern Vancouver Island Invites Community to Help End Period Poverty

May 1, 2023 / by United Way

Victoria, BC (May 1, 2023) – Today, United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI) launched the 2023 Period Promise campaign, which aims to increase access to free menstrual products in our region so that everybody who menstruates can go to work, get to school, access services, and stay connected to their community.

Period poverty is commonly defined as the lack of access to menstrual products and facilities to use them safely.

“Period poverty is more than an inconvenience—when people miss important social events, school, appointments, or workdays, it can stop them from reaching their full potential,” says Erika Stenson, UWSVI Executive Director. “It’s also an issue where caring and connected organizations can easily make a significant impact, so we are challenging local businesses, workplaces, and unions to work together to eliminate period poverty.”

Stenson identifies two ways that organizations can immediately tackle this widespread issue: by offering free menstrual products in their washrooms to staff and customers, and by donating new menstrual products to UWSVI for distribution to local social service agencies.

An easy way to donate products is at UWSVI’s Fill the Bus event on May 28, International Menstrual Hygiene Day. On May 28, UWSVI will gratefully receive financial donations and donations of unopened boxes of tampons, pads, and other menstrual products at Tillicum Mall from 10 am to 3 pm, hoping to fill a BC Transit bus. UWSVI will then distribute the donated products to a network of local agencies.

For workplaces that are interested in starting a product drive to help Fill the Bus, UWSVI has assembled a toolkit of helpful resources, ranging from a comprehensive “how-to” guide to donation box signs. The toolkit and other resources are available at uwsvi.ca/periodpromise.

Several local organizations and workplaces have already signed UWSVI’s Period Promise Policy Agreement and have committed to providing free menstrual products to staff and patrons. In April 2023, the Greater Victoria Public Library became a signatory.

Whether workplaces provide free menstrual products to their staff and customers or host product drives for agencies that need the support, they are making a significant difference, says Stenson.

United Way BC data show that at least half of people who menstruate will struggle with access to products at some point in their lives. The consequences could mean missing a job interview, class, or an important community event, which limits one’s access to opportunities and overall quality of life and health.

  • 26% of people who menstruate in BC say that they had gone through a period without having menstrual products available to them;
  • 13% of people who menstruate in BC say that, as dependents, their families had not been able to afford menstrual products on their behalf;
  • 30% of people say that they haven’t known where to access menstrual products they could afford when their period has hit.

For more information about period poverty, to learn how to start a workplace product drive, or to sign the UWSVI Period Promise Policy Agreement, visit uwsvi.ca/periodpromise.


About United Way Southern Vancouver Island
For 85 years, United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI) has served the local community and remains dedicated to supporting people in areas where they need it most. We believe everyone in the Greater Victoria region, which includes 13 municipalities and 11 First Nations and the Southern Gulf Islands, should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Last year, UWSVI supported close to 63,000 individuals on Southern Vancouver Island in building better lives. That is almost one in six people in our region being helped by a United Way initiative or funded program.

About the Period Promise Campaign
Period Promise is a United Way initiative originally started by United Way BC. From 2017 to 2022, the Period Promise Campaign has managed to get more than 1.5 million menstrual products into communities across BC, including Southern Vancouver Island. The campaign also inspired organizations to adopt a policy to provide menstrual products in their facilities, while de-stigmatizing menstruation and raising awareness of period poverty. For more information, visit uwsvi.ca/periodpromise or uwbc.ca/program/period-promise.

Erik Lambertson
Director, Marketing + Communications
United Way Southern Vancouver Island
Office: 250.984.2269 ext. 265