Support for women experiencing homelessness to manage their periods safely while preserving their dignity was the focus today at the Red Dot Project Conference held at Seneca College’s Newnham campus.
The Red Dot is a registered non-for-profit organization which focuses on collecting monetary donations and menstruation supplies to distribute kits monthly to women in need. Each kit recipient is given enough supplies for an entire cycle to avoid situations where they may use unhygienic and even hazardous materials during their menses.
“Without hesitation, we all agreed and scheduled our first meeting to start planning on who can make this a reality,” said Phil Jang, organizer of the Red Dot Project.
The aim was to get as many people as possible to support the initiative, so the aim of the conference was to start talking about how to make a collective change in the city, Jang said.
He said the Red Dot Project has distributed about 150 menstruation kits in their two years of operation.
Conference participants talked about the importance of financial stress, security, gender inclusiveness, and taking away the taboo when it comes to menstruation.
“Our goal is to inspire people and speakers with this conference that we have today (and) to start offering a free supply,” Jang said. “We always aim to provide support that is as barrier-free as possible.”
Waheeda Ali, a second organizer and host of the Red Dot Project, said that their effort is not just about periods but having the conversation about the accessibility of feminine products. The aim of the conference is to get more people involved and carry on the message.
“Periods are not just women’s problems and I think it should be everyone’s problem. It’s all about the support that we can get from our male side in every way,” Ali said.
The current intention is to give out menstrual supply kits to women experiencing homelessness throughout the whole next month, said Lucy Ambartsumyan, the third organizer and host of the Red Dot Project.
“There are a lot of homeless women in Toronto who use products that are not safe like socks, towels, and newspapers and we are trying to provide them safe products so they could manage their own period the way they want to,” Ambartsumyan said.
Allisa Lim, a graduate student of the Business Administration Program at Humber Lakeshore Campus was a speaker at the conference.
“What I am going to be saying today is what I was able to accomplish while being a student at Humber College as an elective vice president of Humber College Student Union from 2017 to 2018,” Lim said. “When I was running for the elections, my platform that year was to actually say I want to get more free products on campus so that’s what my platform was during my campaign period.”
During her year of planning and implementing research, she focused on figuring out what was the best way is to get free menstruation products for those in need.
Lim’s work is responsible for providing free menstruation products at both Humber North and Lakeshore campuses in the Welcome Centre, she said.