Thanks to an innovative pilot project from the Government of B.C. and United Ways throughout B.C., deliveries of free pads and tampons will soon be arriving for residents in need at 12 locations, including the Nanaimo Women’s Centre.

Periods are a fact of life. But if you’re living in poverty – or vulnerable in other ways – access to menstrual products can be challenging.

The United Way Period Promise Research Project is tackling period poverty in B.C., by piloting community-based solutions. This project was developed following the profound impact of United Way’s 2019 Period Promise Campaign, which generated approximately 500,000 donated menstrual products across the province in March and April 2019. The campaign also inspired organizations to adopt a policy to provide menstrual products in their facilities, while
de-stigmatizing menstruation and raising awareness of period poverty.

“This innovative pilot project provides pads and tampons to help tackle this issue at the local level, across our province,” says Neal Adolph, Director of the CLC Labour Participation department at United Way of the Lower Mainland, and one of the organizers of United Way’s Period Promise campaign. “We commend the Government of B.C. for their leadership on this issue.”

“This Period Promise Research Project will bring light to how common period poverty is in our communities, how it affects your neighbours, and how community agencies, like Nanaimo Women’s Centre, can be a part of the solution,” says Signy Madden, Executive Director, United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island. “We are already working with the local BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union to supply hygiene products in the central and northern Vancouver Island region; we are so grateful for their donations and are eager to continue to make an impact on period poverty on Vancouver Island.”

“Having access to free menstrual products should be a human right and is a basic need. Our clients should not have to face period poverty amongst their challenges. We are so grateful to be involved in the Period Promise Research Project and are happy that the United Way is moving the dial on this important and often overlooked issue in our region,” says Chantal Roelens, Executive Director, Nanaimo Women’s Centre.

Community organizations receiving and distributing donations will also capture information about how period poverty is affecting local residents. They will hear how improved access to menstrual products is impacting their lives. This data will be shared with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, so we can build solutions that make vulnerable people’s lives better.

This will be the first research project of its kind in Canada. It is backed by a $95,000 grant from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The project was announced April 2019, when the Ministry of Education also shared its ministerial order that all schools in B.C. provide menstrual products free-of-charge to students.

If you’ve struggled to afford menstrual products, your voice matters. Go to to take a 4 minute confidential survey. To find accessible menstrual products in your area, please contact Nanaimo Women’s Centre.

This pilot project is proudly supported by Pacific Blue Cross, Vancity, Always and Tampax. Thank you to each of these Supporting Sponsors for their leadership and commitment to ensuring the successful roll out and promotion of this project.

For more information, go to


Nicole Benson

Communications Manager, United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island