A debate about providing menstrual products in some city buildings is still resonating the day after councillors spent hours on the topic at a Board of Health meeting.
Hamilton’s YWCA keeps a stash of menstrual products in the hall so no one in transitional living has to ask.
“It’s a question that often comes with fear and embarrassment and we don’t want to create extra stress for our residents. So we have condoms, pads, tampons, we stocked this a few days ago and all the pads are already gone.”
Since the YWCA doesn’t have funding for the menstrual products they provide, they rely on donations.
Luckily the bin will be filled today, but the need for menstrual products is ever present. Menstruation affects almost everyone with a uterus, including those who identify as transgender and non binary.
“This is not a luxury, it’s something people need and rely on. and for many individuals it’s dangerous and not an option to ask for help in those situations.”
Whereas the inability to afford menstrual products is a health equity issue.
Yesterday, City Councillor Maureen Wilson asked the Board of Health to look at options for a pilot project that would provide menstrual supplies at some libraries and rec centres.
The reaction of councillor Esther Pauls was widely criticized on social media.
“Toilet paper we all use. We don’t carry it with us. But as a woman, we’re always prepared.”
In the end, even the motion to defer the debate to another day could not pass, but Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he’s open to continuing the discussion.
“I think it’s a worthy conversation. I’m going to meet with Counclllor Wilson and see if we can’t come up with something helpful, while not necessarily providing product for everyone.”
Esther Pauls says she has heard a lot of feedback today and she regrets that people found her Board of Health comments offensive. She says she would be willing to take up the conversation again, but not until a new budget is up for debate.