Ayesha Ahmad is tackling period poverty through a mutual-aid initiative in the form of a new red-and-orange cabinet in downtown Whitehorse.
The Yukon Period Pantry started providing 24/7 access to free pads, tampons and menstrual cups outside the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council on Sept. 2.
The pantry located at 407 Black St. is intended to serve anyone who needs period products.
Ahmad checks on the stock and cleanliness of the pantry each day.
The pantry is an open resource with no lock, no identification and no proof of income required. Ahmad said no one will be “policing” which individuals access it and how often.
“We really wanted to make it so it’s accessible to anyone at all times,” she said.
“It’s very difficult for people to access resources like this when they have to be so out in the open and show all of the income and justify why they can’t afford a necessary resource.”
The idea for the pantry was developed during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when Ahmad and her sister started noticing discussion, specifically on the Yukon Helpers Network Facebook page and through community youth organizations and high school students, about people needing access to menstrual products.
“That was also when there was a lack of trucks coming up to the North, and there was a really big decrease in the availability of period products,” she said.
Ahmad said the idea is based on the notion of a community fridge project in Vancouver.
“We kind of evolved that into having free menstrual products available,” she said.
The pantry runs on the basis of take what you need and give what you can.
The volunteer-run initiative does not get direct funding from any single organization. Ahmad said it relies on community and business donations of products coming in over time to keep it going.
“This flow of menstrual products will keep it alive and hopefully will sustain future pantries, as well,” she said.
Ahmad hopes the initiative will expand into every community in the territory where there is a need.
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