Free Periods Canada creates menstrual map to connect students with free period products on campus

Menstrual products on campus are now more accessible thanks to a menstrual map created by Free Periods Canada, a group that began as an AMS club and is now a non-profit that promotes menstrual equity.

Through partnerships with universities like UBC, Free Periods Canada hopes to combat menstrual inequity by providing menstruating people with access to period products and addressing gaps in accessibility for these products.

Deyvika Srinivasa, advocacy and policy coordinator for Free Periods Canada, said that a survey was conducted at UBC in 2019 to determine the difficulties UBC students faced in obtaining menstrual products on campus.

“A lot of people said that they had been in a position where they needed a [menstrual] product between classes and had to skip a class because they didn’t have those products.”

A 2020 report based on the findings of the survey shared that 66 per cent of menstruators reported that lack of accessibility to period products “negatively affected their ability to participate in extracurricular activities on campus.”

To promote awareness about the availability of period products, Srinivasa said that Free Periods Canada envisioned a menstrual map to create “a more centralized system at UBC.”

“There shouldn’t be any responsibility on students’ part to educate themselves about where they can find products. I think that’s kind of a basic baseline that we should have at UBC.”

The menstrual map was created in collaboration with the AMS and UBC Building Operations and will be displayed on physical posters throughout campus along with a QR code that will direct students to an interactive digital map.

“The map will not only make finding free period products on campus easier, but its widespread adoption will hopefully also help reduce the stigma around periods,” AMS President Cole Evans wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey.

Alongside this survey, an audit was conducted in February 2020 that determined that many menstrual product dispensers on campus did not work or simply were not available in many washroom facilities.

“There aren’t tons of gender-inclusive washrooms and sometimes there are no products,” Srinivasa said.

The map will not only detail where to find menstrual products and gender-inclusive washrooms — it will also direct students to facilities that are expected to be fully stocked.

Funding for continuously stocked menstrual dispensers will come from various sources, including UBC Student Housing and UBC Building Operations, the latter of which has installed dispensers in over 300 washrooms across campus.

Srinivasa expects future surveys to be launched to learn how successful the menstrual map is and how Free Periods Canada and UBC can further promote menstrual equity within the university.

“The end goal isn’t that students just know where they can find products. The end goal is [that] it’s as basic as toilet paper and they don’t need to think about anything,” said Srinivasa.

“The ability for menstruators to have access to free period products should be a basic right, and we’re happy to see this increasingly become a reality at UBC,” wrote Evans