My sister and I created this social enterprise and partnership to eliminate period poverty in our generation.
By collaborating with businesses, community partners, labour groups, and all three levels of government, we will eliminate every barrier that exists in our communities for persons who need them to access these products at no cost. Every person who menstruates has the human right to manage their menstruation with dignity. Our goal is to run this enterprise as a net-zero endeavour. We are not doing this to make one penny. We are, as an enterprise, actually assuming a tremendous amount of financial risk by guaranteeing whoever purchases a dispensing unit for their public washroom to keep it stocked for a year, with no data to estimate consumption.
We make zero dollars on the sale of a dispensing unit.
My dad and his twin sister, living with a single mother, grew up on the west end of Windsor in extreme poverty. When he was young he didn’t know that he was poor- just only that he had much less than most of his peers. It wasn’t until he had a conversation with my grandma about her access to menstrual products during these times that he realized how often the costliness of these products forces people to scratch them off the grocery list- when there was too much on the checkout counter, and my grandma was dealing with limited funds to support her children, she told my dad that the pads and tampons were first to be taken off. My dad was mortified to hear this- I think he once told me it was one of the most disturbing conversations he had ever had. Him having two daughters of his own and the thought of this having to happen to my sister or me is what I think ignited him to get to work.
At the time, my dad was the host of a radio show through which he did a segment on period poverty and women’s lack of access to menstrual products in our community. The United Way, who he brought onto his show to discuss the topic of period poverty, offered him an opportunity to help organize an initiative that was new to Windsor at the time called Tampon Tuesday, a menstrual hygiene product charity fundraiser, to which my dad greatly accepted. He had brought me to the event on the day of. Before this, I had no idea that these products were in such high demand in our community. Growing up, I always had an adequate supply of menstrual products because my parents were fortunate enough to never have to choose between food or period products for themselves and dependants at the checkout. However, when I saw how large the donations were, I realized that the need for these products for people who menstruate was a deep and serious health and community crisis in our city. Inspired by my dad, I also got to work.
The following year I had started at St. Joseph’s High School and alongside my good friend Mira Gillis who had attended F.J Brennan, we brought Tampon Tuesday into our own schools. This was a very daunting mission for a 9th grader- I was scared the older students in my school would think it a joke that a girl was going classroom to classroom talking about periods. I was blown away at how well-received my message about period poverty was. Together in only our first year, we had collected over 500 boxes of product from students and staff combined! We continued to run the fundraiser each year in March which is always a success.
At the end of my grade 10 year, I was elected to be the incoming student trustee for the 2020/2021 school year at my school board. I knew immediately that I wanted to bring to the trustee’s and senior administration’s attention the period poverty crisis and push for these products to be provided for free in school washrooms. Alongside my ward’s trustee who is now considered a friend and mentor, we put forward the motion to the school board that menstrual hygiene products were made available to students in the washrooms via dispensers at no cost. It passed unanimously. Now obviously the roll-out of the provision of these products is on a different timeline due to the province committing to providing these products to all schools at no cost in collaboration with shoppers drug mart, but it was still a huge win for Windsor and pushed me to take it another step further.
My dad and I approached the Windsor city council with the same idea for all washrooms to be provided with these products at no cost in city locations. It was long 8-month progress but my dad and I stayed the course. Along the way, we made many allies and attended countless meetings, and just last month it was officially adopted that Windsor will be rolling out a 6-month pilot program to test providing period products at no cost in 6 city locations.
After some startup data has been collected, the city will provide these products in all city buildings in male and female washrooms via coin-free dispensers.
Clearly, this is a growing initiative. Period Product Partner is but another step in my family’s mission to ensure that period poverty is a word that will be history to the generation after us. Windsor is just the test market. People who menstruate have the human right to manage their period with dignity; so this is an initiative that in the future, I hope to promote countrywide.
PPP looks forward to partnering with you!
-Jada Malott, Founder and CEO