The importance of proper access to menstrual hygiene products for pre-teen and teen girls is becoming more clear to school boards.
Last year, the Toronto District School Board provided free menstrual products at all elementary and high schools.
This summer, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) implemented the provision of menstrual hygiene products in its 2020-2021 budget.
One former PDSB student trustee, who plans to take the Medical Science Program at Western University, fought to end what she called “period poverty.”
Kenisha Arora, 17, served as the PDSB student trustee before graduating in June from Glenforest Secondary School’s IB Program.
Arora says she recognized that menstrual hygiene products are essential to the health and well-being of people who menstruate, but it is still a stigmatized topic for youth. In her conversations with hundreds of students, Arora said she “realized that many young girls were embarrassed to even ask their friends for menstrual hygiene products and some would often hide underneath their desks to hide the receival of these products from the boys in their classrooms – which is especially common in elementary schools. The inaccessibility of menstrual hygiene products has led many girls to also use tissues.”
Arora wanted to make sure the board addressed equity issues, and eliminate the stigma around menstruation.
“It is not about investing in free menstrual hygiene products, it is about addressing equity issues and eliminating the stigma around menstruation,” Arora added.