The Women’s Centre is currently seeking to implement what advocacy director Stephanie Hand calls a “menstrual product accessibility program.”
“It basically is providing menstrual products like pads and tampons, particularly in women’s bathrooms and gender-neutral bathrooms,” Hand said.
The Women’s Centre originally ran the project as a pilot program, meant to record and analyze data that volunteers collected on the amount of menstrual products used. These results were then used to summarize the success of the program.
“We were originally going to do the program as a pilot program for the month of June, and the program was so successful we thought we shouldn’t pull it,” Hand stated.
The Student Life Centre (SLC) is currently the only building in which the program runs, with the Women’s Centre offering free menstrual products by their office. “We originally were only allowed to implement [free menstrual products] in the Women’s Centre particularly, and not a lot of people know about it, so having this program implemented is really beneficial for a lot of students,” Hand said.
The Women’s Centre has been looking to plant operations to help advance the program further by having staff restock menstrual products throughout buildings on campus. The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) has also reached out to plant operations, something that Hand stated could further their initiative.
Hand also described several setbacks to the program. “Our problem right now is, first of all, we don’t have the funding for it. And second, we don’t have enough volunteers to implement this program,” she said. “We can’t have our volunteers running all over the place on campus.”
The Women’s Centre has put out a petition to garner support and volunteers for the program to convince the university to provide funding. “The more support we have, the more availability we can provide across campus for this program,” Hand said.
Stickers with the QR code to the petition have been posted on the Women’s Centre’s bins, and students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the initiative, or talk to volunteers at the Women’s Centre directly.
The Women’s Centre has also been looking to collaborate on funding opportunities with the Physical Activities Complex (PAC) due to its connection to the SLC.
Several other locations on campus provide free menstrual products in women’s washrooms, including the Grad House and Columbia Ice Field (CIF).