The Free the Tampon Initiative is a widespread movement taking North America by storm! The initiative places accountability on government agencies to address the right, need, and growing demand for free menstrual care products. The movement towards supplying menstrual care products has been growing and gaining momentum: a survey completed by Proctor & Gamble found that one in seven Canadian children have missed school because they were unable to receive menstrual care products during their period.
The argument is quite simple and logical: hygiene necessities such as paper towels and toilet tissue are provided at no charge in all washrooms, so why aren’t tampons and sanitary napkins? Certainly, they are of equal necessity and hygienic importance.
British Columbia was the first Canadian province to join the movement, mandating all public schools must provide free tampons and sanitary napkins to students in elementary, middle, and high school by the end of 2019. The announcement highlighted more than just the free menstrual care products, it also included where these products must be placed. By the end of 2019, all public schools in British Columbia will have accessible and free menstrual hygiene products in the washroom.
The placement of the free products addresses a concern expressed by advocates as well as students. One grade eleven student highlighted, “In my own experience, I know that many young adults feel awkward asking for menstrual products at a school office, especially if there isn’t an adult there with whom they feel comfortable.”
Allowing access to free menstrual hygiene products within the school systems contributes to an engaged classroom. British Columbia’s education minister Rob Fleming noted “Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products”.
The movement for free menstrual care products has had a global impact. In addition to British Columbia’s adaptation, Centennial College based out of Toronto has also joined this initiative. The decision to eliminate the charge for menstrual care products on campus at Centennial College was decided on as a part of a plan to having inclusive washrooms for all. Additionally, an examination was completed of the college’s budget revealing there would be an annual savings of $3000.00 from relieving the task to collect change from the dispensers.
With considerable progress being made towards the Free the Tampon Initiative it is important that businesses now start to make the necessary changes within their washrooms to make an inclusive experience for all. A business’s efforts to create an inclusive washroom will have long-lasting effects that speak largely to gender equality and creating a positive user and customer experience.
The Free the Tampon Initiative is a movement Citron has always supported, as we believe menstrual care items should be available in the same manner toilet paper and other basic washroom necessities are. We are proud to offer free-vend menstrual care dispenser options throughout all locations.