Menstrual products neglected when addressing poverty, organizer says as drive collects 11,000 pads, tampons

A donation drive put on by the Winnipeg charity 1JustCity on Saturday raised thousands of dollars — and collected thousands of menstrual products — for people experiencing poverty and homelessness.

The drive saw over 11,000 pads, tampons and menstrual cups donated to help the charitable social justice organization’s clients, and will be distributed between its three drop-in locations and other organizations that need them.

“There’s so many people facing poverty that don’t have access to these products and then they end up using homemade alternatives, such as rags and T-shirts,” said Corinne Coutts, who was involved in the drive.

“It’s not sanitary, and it leads to health issues, so we believe everyone should have access to these products.”

More than 11,000 menstrual products were donated to 1JustCity, along with $6,000. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Coutts says menstrual products are often forgotten about when people think about poverty and homelessness.

“We’re often focused on the food, the blankets, the shelter, which is great. They’re all things that are important, but people are menstruating all the time and there’s such a need.”

The products and an accessible washroom are especially needed during the pandemic when public places aren’t open, she said.

Tessa Whitecloud, the executive director of 1JustCity, says menstrual products are an added expense that some can’t afford.

“Sometimes that means choosing tampons or choosing food, or choosing tampons or making sure your kid can have a lunch.”