Giving Compass' Take:

• A new initiative in Toronto, Canada will allow two Shoppers Drug Mart locations to have free tampon dispensers for homeless women to use in an attempt to battle period poverty. 

• Will this initiative spread throughout the country? What other products do homeless women need that are not easily attainable?

• Read the Giving Compass Homelessness guide for donors. 

Two Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Toronto could soon be equipped with dispensers of free menstrual hygiene products, if an initiative led by City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Shoppers Drug Mart's Community Investment program is successful.

“This is really an issue around equity,” Wong-Tam told Global Citizen. “Menstruating is an involuntary bodily function.”

The councilor points out that standard essentials in bathrooms in Toronto should include more than just toilet paper and soap. Why shouldn’t menstrual products make the cut as essentials?

What that comes down to, Wong-Tam said, is non-menstruators being the ones making the plans.

“If women were in the rooms making those decisions, perhaps menstrual products would be widely available,” she said.

Shoppers Drug Mart will make the dispensers out of refurbished newspaper boxes that could be accessed with a PIN code. PIN codes will be distributed at local shelters, according to a letter to city council from Lisa Gibbs, Shoppers' Community Investment director.

For women experiencing homelessness or living on low incomes, having to buy menstrual products could mean choosing between food or tampons. And when the products aren’t made available at shelters or in bathrooms, as Wong-Tam points out, it means having to ask for them, which she feels is an unfair position to put someone in.

Wong-Tam first became interested in period poverty when she learned about the Period Purse, an organization tackling period poverty in Canada. Before then, she had not realized the extent of the issue.

Read the full article about free tampons to end period poverty by Jackie Marchildon at Global Citizen