Shock over pricey tam­pons at air­port

Vend­ing ma­chine note goes vi­ral, sparks dis­course on af­ford­abil­ity of fem­i­nine prod­ucts

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - LIFE - LAU­REN KRUGEL

CAL­GARY — A $15 box of tam­pons sold at the Cal­gary In­ter­na­tional Air­port may have elicited shock on­line, but it’s com­mon for fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts to cost that much — or more — in many re­mote north­ern com­mu­ni­ties.

Car­lee Field was wait­ing for a flight from Cal­gary to Van­cou­ver last month when she stopped to use the ladies’ room in the terminal and saw a box of tam­pons with an unsigned hand­writ­ten note.

“None of the tam­pon vend­ing ma­chines work in this area so I was forced to buy this $15 box from Re­lay. Not ac­cept­able!” the note said. “Please take one if you need one.”

Shortly af­ter Field posted a photo on the so­cial me­dia site Red­dit, the air­port au­thor­ity wrote that the ma­chines had been re­filled and the price at Re­lay had been low­ered to $6.25.

Field is glad her post has opened a con­ver­sa­tion about how pe­riod prod­ucts are too of­ten viewed as a lux­ury rather than a ne­ces­sity.

“They give toi­let pa­per away for free,” Field said. Why can’t they give pads and tam­pons away for free?”

Keetha Mercer, pro­gram man­ager of com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives at the Cana­dian Women’s Foun­da­tion, said she’s not sur­prised Field’s post went vi­ral since it speaks to an­other cost women have to fac­tor into their daily lives — a par­tic­u­lar burden for 1.5 mil­lion women in Canada who live on a low in­come.

“Women are paid less and our prod­ucts of­ten cost more,” she said. “Women shouldn’t have to choose be­tween putting food on the ta­ble and buy­ing prod­ucts for their ba­sic needs, but that’s the re­al­ity for many women in Canada.”

The re­gional dis­par­i­ties are striking, she said.

In Iqaluit, a 40-pack of tam­pons is $15 and in the First Nations com­mu­nity of At­ti­wapiskat, Ont., near the shore of James Bay, it’s about $18.

Com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer Ni­cole White be­gan col­lect­ing do­na­tions of pads and tam­pons for schools, health cen­tres and shel­ters af­ter hear­ing that girls in north­ern Saskatchewan were miss­ing school dur­ing their pe­ri­ods.

“If you’re a per­son who’s liv­ing un­der the poverty line, fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts are seen as a lux­ury,” she said.

White’s group, Moon Time Sis­ters, do­nated 96,000 prod­ucts to 15 Saskatchewan com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing its in­au­gu­ral drive last spring. It has since branched out into On­tario.

“It is a pretty big ex­pense for a lot of women,” said Veron­ica Bairos, who runs the On­tario chap­ter.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

An anony­mous note and a $15 box of tam­pons is shown in a women’s wash­room at the Cal­gary In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Nov. 26, 2017. Though many shocked at the price, women in re­mote Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties of­ten pay that much or more for fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion Moon Time Sis­ters.

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