After eight months of providing basic menstrual products in schools and other agencies to improve accessibility, the Access to Menstrual Product Initiative is on track to distribute 3.3 million products within a year.
May 28 was Menstrual Hygiene Day, which aims to break the silence, and stigma and raise awareness around menstrual health and hygiene, as well as engage decision-makers to take action around the subject and end period poverty.
"On Menstrual Hygiene Day, I’m pleased to provide an update on this project and affirm our government’s commitment to providing menstruation products with the aim of ending period poverty in schools," says Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko. "Reducing the impacts of period poverty will give students who menstruate the opportunity to better participate in all school-related activities and achieve better health and educational outcomes."
Announced in the fall of 2022, the Manitoba government partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to provide free menstrual products to schools and other agencies to improve accessibility and reduce period poverty.
Through this agreement, schools, domestic violence shelters, resource centres and second-stage and specialized programs are receiving menstrual products to administer to those most in need.
"Access to menstrual products is a basic necessity, not a luxury. Menstruation is part of healthy, normal human development —not something to be stigmatized," says Families Minister Rochelle Squires. "This innovative partnership works towards addressing myths, taboos and stigma around menstruation health and changes the conversation towards supporting health and well-being for those who menstruate."
The initiative is on track to distribute 3.3 million menstrual products in its first year throughout participating schools, school divisions and domestic violence sector agencies across Manitoba. Since October 2022, over 2 million products have been distributed.
Of the 2.2 million, 1.9 million were distributed to school divisions and 293,000 were distributed to domestic violence sector agencies. All 37 school divisions across Manitoba have engaged in the initiative to date, in addition to many independent schools and First Nations schools.
Ewasko noted providing free menstrual products to students delivers on the government’s commitment to building a fair and equitable public education system, supporting the student engagement and well-being pillar of Manitoba’s K to 12 Education Action Plan.
As noted in the plan, the Manitoba government continues to work with education stakeholders, parents and caregivers to ensure holistic supports are available to address student needs, including mental health and wellness.
A resource guide for teachers has been developed to increase awareness of the initiative as well as to highlight the Physical Education/Health Education curricular connections with menstrual health and hygiene.
More information on the Access to Menstrual Products Initiative in Manitoba schools is available at https://edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/physhlth/menstrual_products/index.html.