A Pitt Meadows woman is pushing to have coin-free menstruation dispensers installed in all public spaces across the city.
Corinne Underwood, with Choices for Sexual Health, was inspired by recent events in New Westminster, where school trustees approved the installation of free dispensers in all public schools.
Underwood first contacted the administration at Pitt Meadows elementary, where she has a daughter in Grade 4, about getting the units installed. Then she contacted the District Parent Advisory Council, School District No. 42 and the City of Pitt Meadows.
She even contacted the United Way because of its campaign called Period Promise, which helps women who cannot afford to purchase menstruation products for themselves.
“The fact is that it’s pretty simple. Guys have everything that they need from a hygienic standpoint in the washrooms and women don’t,” said the sexual health educator.
She added that it is a gender equality, and basic hygiene issue.
Underwood noted that, under federal regulations, all washrooms are required to have toilet paper, paper towels, soap, hand dryers and a menstrual product dispenser. But, Underwood argued, proper hygiene for women should include free access to menstruation products.
She would like to see coin-free machines in all public buildings, parks and communal areas that have bathrooms.
Currently, schools in the district have menstruation products for free at school offices.
However, Underwood said they need to be in school washrooms. Not having them there, she added, compounds the shame and stigma around menstruation.
The initial expense for a school would be around $1,500 and include three dispensing units, worth $300 each, and products. The dispensers last 10 years costs $75 a year to stock them.
She plans to meet with the Pitt Meadows elementary administration and parent committee on April 9.
Underwood is buoyed by the amount of community support she has.
“It’s a no-brainer. You buy toilet paper, you buy maxi-pads.”