Menstrual Equity Fund Pilot

Menstrual equity refers to equal and comprehensive access to menstrual products, as well as access to education regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights. Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these.

Many people face barriers to accessing menstrual products or educational materials because of financial limitations and/or harmful social norms and attitudes surrounding menstruation.

Lack of access to menstrual products is closely linked to poverty and disproportionately impacts youth, single mothers, Indigenous peoples, Black and other racialized communities, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, people living with disabilities, gender diverse individuals, and those who live in remote areas.

A 2023 public opinion research survey conducted by Environics Research on behalf of Women and Gender Equality Canada found that: 

Addressing barriers related to affordability and stigma

Budget 2022 committed to establishing a national pilot for the Menstrual Equity Fund (MEF) to address the barriers related to affordability and stigma that some Canadians face when accessing menstrual products.

Phase 1: Research and engagement

Throughout 2022–23, Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) undertook research and engagement activities to better understand the menstrual equity landscape in Canada. This included:

What we heard from MEF engagement activities (2022–23)

Acknowledgements & Introduction

Acknowledgements & introduction

Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) would like to thank all people who participated in the online survey, meetings, and bilateral and group discussions.

What we heard

What we heard from the consultations

The engagement process underscored issues under the following themes: period poverty, demand for products, access and product distribution, funding support, and education and research.

Public Opinion Research

Public opinion research

In March 2023, Environics Research conducted an online survey with 2,083 Canadians to provide WAGE with a measure of awareness, attitudes, and behaviours regarding period poverty.

Phase 2: Design of the pilot – A national approach

Information gathered through engagement activities informed the design of the MEF pilot, which centres on selecting one established national non-profit organization to:

Phase 3: Targeted call for proposals

WAGE launched a targeted call for proposals to solicit applications from five national not-for-profit organizations. National candidates that were invited to apply demonstrated qualities that will support a successful MEF pilot, including:

Food Banks Canada, one of the country’s largest organizations to fight food insecurity, was selected to run the MEF pilot. Visit Food Banks Canada for implementation details.

Phase 4: The pilot in action

The MEF pilot began on September 1, 2023. Since then:

Based on the early success of the pilot, WAGE is providing up to $5 million in supplemental funding for Food Banks Canda to enhance the impact of the Menstrual Equity Fund pilot project.

Funding will:

The MEF pilot builds on ongoing work at the federal level to advance menstrual equity, including:

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