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Menstruation goes political March 10 at Douglas College

Douglas College instructors Selina Tribe and Lisa Smith have teamed up to host one of B.C.’s first menstruation fairs at Douglas College: Periods, Politics and Beyond! The event features speakers and booths focused on menstrual equity and the progress made in B.C. towards free and accessible menstrual products in schools and public washrooms.

“This conversation is overdue,” said Tribe. “Hosting a period fair is something that has never been done before in B.C., even in Canada as far as we know. For a biological process so ubiquitous, so lengthy, so fundamental to humanity, the fact that it’s taken this long for open conversations to happen reflects the deep pervasive stigma attached to menstruation.”

Tribe’s passion for the topic arose when she discovered her pre-teen daughter’s school didn’t have menstrual product dispensers in the girls’ washrooms. Students in need were required to ask an adult at the front office for supplies. After considerable advocacy, B.C. public schools are now required to have coin-free menstrual product dispensers in their washrooms.

Tribe’s success with public schools has spurred her to continue the campaign for free menstrual products in washrooms. Collaborating with Lisa Smith, the two established the Menstrual Research Institute to investigate the impact of culture, politics and social forces on periods, and to educate people through community events and public outreach, such as the menstruation fair initiative.  

“National and provincial building codes, and occupational health and safety codes, require washrooms have free toilet paper, soap, washing water, paper towels and even urinals for men. Which is notably a convenience rather than a medical necessity. But the codes don’t mention menstrual products. I want to change that,” said Tribe. “When women or girls can’t manage their period due to lack of access to supplies, they avoid activities, go home or stay home. It’s a mobility issue.”

Tribe and Smith will be joined by speakers from Period Promise, Lunapads International, the BC Federation of Students, Period UBC, Langara College and the Douglas Students’ Union. Vendor and organizer booths will be on-site. The event will also feature a menstrual product drive to collect supplies for local women’s shelters.

Period, Politics and Beyond! takes place on March 10, 5:30-8:30pm, in the concourse at Douglas College’s New Westminster Campus (700 Royal Ave). It is free and open to the public.

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Contact

Selina Tribe
Co-Director, Menstrual Research Institute
Instructor, Earth & Environmental Science
tribes@douglascollege.ca
604 777 6674