The Halton District School Board (HDSB) has announced that they will be providing free menstrual products in all schools later this year.
By September 2021, the HDSB will provide free menstrual products for students in all HDSB schools as part of the Free Menstrual Products Initiative.
This program, designed to address gaps in access to menstrual products, will help to promote awareness and reduce the stigma of menstruation.
Dispensing machines will be installed during the Spring Break and summer months in all-female, gender-neutral and multi-stall female washrooms in all HDSB schools.
In the fall of 2020, this initiative was implemented for a trial period at four HDSB secondary schools; White Oaks SS, Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS, Craig Kielburger SS and Georgetown District HS.
“Access and availability of menstrual products in schools impacts the dignity and self-esteem of menstruating students and can impact class attendance and student achievement,” says Jewel Amoah, the Board’s Human Rights & Equity Advisor.
“Whether for reasons of economics, convenience or safety, access to menstrual products in public spaces, including schools, has become a matter of public commentary and concern in recent years. In keeping with similar initiatives in neighbouring and regional school boards, as well as municipalities in Canadian and international jurisdictions, free access to menstrual products supports both gender and economic equity as well as to raise awareness of, and destigmatize, the natural biological process of menstruation.”
In response to feedback from students, the Free Menstrual Products Initiative was supported by senior leadership at the HDSB and the Board of Trustees.
The report with feedback concluded that awareness of the availability of menstrual products across HDSB schools was inconsistent.
Additionally, it concluded that the lack of access to menstrual products has the potential to impact school attendance as well as the overall well-being of students.