By Olivia Scarangella

Writer Olivia Scarangella.

She is 11 years old. She hasn’t been feeling well at school, her stomach hurts, she is moody. This was not a familiar feeling.

She goes to the bathroom …

Better yet, she stands up to go to the bathroom and finds a huge red stain on her pants.

What should she do? She can ask a friend or a teacher. But she’s too embarrassed. She doesn’t have any period products on her and there’s none to be seen in the bathroom.

To the men reading this, this is a girl’s reality each and every month.

One in seven Canadian girls have either left school early or have missed a full day of school because they did not have access to period products, according to the Toronto Sun.

Wouldn’t it be great if menstrual products were free for everyone who needs them?

Menstruation is a basic female function that every woman will experience in their lifetime, and women do not have a choice in the matter.

Periods are the reason we are all on this earth today. If it wasn’t for that “time of the month,” no one would be here.

Women who have their period go through a monthly cycle, which is when the body prepares them for pregnancy. During the cycle, the lining of a woman’s uterus thickens and an egg is released from the ovaries. The egg is now ready to be fertilized.

Every month a woman does not become pregnant, the body expels the tissue that it no longer needs to fertilize the egg, hence the bleeding.  

If women didn’t have periods, there would be no cities, no streets and no life.

Of course, men play an important role in conception, but they don’t spend thousands of dollars on products every month.  

So why do women get punished for this beautiful gift?

(Infographic by Olivia Scarangella/Ryersonian)

In 2017, a survey conducted by Chatelaine found that 65 per cent of Canadians think governments should fund feminine hygiene products.

But, there is still a stigma behind menstruation.

Some people to this day think periods are “gross” and “unsanitary.”

Periods should be celebrated, but instead, society makes many women feel the need to hide it.

Periods are also stigmatized from a cultural viewpoint.

In some societies, women are forced to sleep in huts during their monthly menstruation. This is because of the cultural stigma that a woman’s period is gross and should be kept from the public eye. As well, in these situations, many of the girls have no access to any period products.

Having greater access to period products would weaken the stigma surrounding this issue; it would make young girls feel less embarrassed and ashamed. Women would feel more comfortable having their period and be able to live their everyday life while on it.

According to Canadian Menstruators, in 2014, 17,876,392 women from the ages 12 to 49 spent around $519,976,963 on menstrual products.

A report by Plan International Canada says that one-third of Canadian women, under the age of 25, have struggled to afford menstrual products.

The report also found that feminine hygiene products were one of the top-three material costs of being a woman.

If products were free for women and funded by the government, it would allow equal opportunity and access for all women.

Women have to buy full packs of products monthly and emergency products are not usually very accessible. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a tampon dispenser that actually works.

However, Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam led the fight to have designated funding of menstrual products to homeless women and girls, which has officially been approved by council.

The taxes on period products were also removed in Canada in 2015.

There is hope for the future, ladies.

This is a joint byline. Ryersonian staff are responsible for the news website edited and produced by final-year undergraduate and graduate journalism students at Ryerson University. It features all the content from the weekly campus newspaper, The Ryersonian, and distributes news and online multimedia, including video newscasts from RyersonianTV. Ryersonian.ca also provides videos, images, and other interactive material in partnership with the School of Journalism.

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