Period poverty in plain sight:
One in four Canadian women have had to choose between menstrual products and meals
Period poverty affects 500 million people worldwide, impacting their health, well-being and participation in daily life
Toronto, ON – May 24, 2023 – Plan International Canada, a global humanitarian and development organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls, has released the results of a new survey that sheds light on the pervasive issue of period poverty and stigma in Canada. The survey reveals that one-quarter (25%) of women who menstruate in Canada have had to choose between purchasing menstrual products and purchasing other essential items like food or rent.
Globally, Plan International Canada supports menstrual equity for girls, women and other people who menstruate so they can manage their periods safely and with dignity, speak openly about their health rights and encourage their communities to promote this equity.
“Period poverty should never limit a person’s potential,” says Saadya Hamdani, director of gender equality and inclusion at Plan International Canada. “By breaking down the stigma and providing access to menstrual products and education, we can create a world where everyone can fully participate in all aspects of life.”
The new survey, ‘The Hidden Cost of Periods: A Canadian Perspective,’ which is being released in advance of Menstrual Health Day on May 28, exposes ongoing menstrual stigma and access barriers faced by Canadian women, hindering their education, employment and mental health.
In partnership with Leger, Plan International Canada conducted an online survey in April 2023 of 1,000 women aged 18-plus. The key findings are as follows:
Unaffordable periods: The high cost for Canadian menstruators
- 82% of Canadian respondents who menstruate believe that period products are expensive, and this increases to 88% among menstruators aged 18 to 24.
- 82% of women in Canada support access to free period products in public washrooms, and 95% of 18- to 24-year-old women agree.
Menstrual taboo in Canada: Social stigma continues to impact women’s lives
- One in five women have felt judged or like they were treated unfairly at work or in their relationships because of their period.
- 78% of 18- to 24-year-old women have felt the need to hide their period at school or work, and a shocking 51% have felt the need to hide their period at home.
- More than half (54%) of women aged 18 to 24 have felt embarrassed talking about their experiences with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
- 52% of 18- to 24-year-old women think the word “period” is considered dirty or inappropriate in Canadian society.
Education and open conversations are crucial to ending menstrual stigma
- 65% of Canadian women either did not receive any menstrual-health education – on anatomy, PMS, hygiene and related topics – or did but it wasn’t comprehensive.
- Around half (52%) of respondents regularly avoid discussing periods and PMS with men in their personal or social circles due to shame or discomfort.
- 37% of women avoid discussing periods and PMS with friends due to shame or discomfort.
Join the fight against period poverty: Plan International Canada’s Pads for periods Gift of Hope
Period poverty affects 500 million people worldwide – people who don’t have access to menstrual supplies or safe washrooms, often due to systemic barriers as well as the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Plan International Canada’s work aims to address these issues and promote menstrual equity for all. Canadians can support girls’ menstrual health around the world with the Pads for periods Gift of Hope.
Join the conversation on Menstrual Health Day with @PlanCanada
- Connect with us online: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook
- Advocate for menstrual equity by using the hashtags #LetsTalkPeriods and #MHDay2023
- Tune in or join the action with Game for Girls’ Equality: Play for Period Progress, sponsored by U by Kotex®. Registration to our charity online gaming tournament starts May 29, with matches beginning June 12!
About Plan International Canada
Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 85 years and is now active in more than 80 countries.
We are calling on all Canadians to embrace their global citizenship – to believe in the power and potential of every child and to stand with children, especially girls, anywhere they are oppressed, exploited, left behind or not equally valued.
Visit plancanada.ca for more information.
About Plan International Canada’s 2023 menstrual health research
In partnership with Leger, Plan International Canada conducted an online survey in April 2023 of 1,000 women aged 18-plus, 667 of whom are not yet menopausal. The survey examined attitudes and perceptions related to menstrual product affordability, menstrual health education and stigma around menstruation.
The survey was completed between April 21 and 26, 2023, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 1,000 respondents would have a margin of error of ±3.1% 19 times out of 20.
Media contactPlan International Canada
PR & Communications
Join our mailing list to receive updates
By signing up you agree to receive our emails.