Breaking the Silence: The Period Priority Project’s Fight Against Menstrual Stigma

March 25, 2024

As the visionary founder of the Period Priority Project, Leisha pioneers nationwide menstrual equity initiatives, distributing products and enhancing education for youth through handbooks, presentations, and podcasts. This groundbreaking project sets a precedent in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Additionally, her leadership, as the SRHR Director with the Young Canadians Roundtable of Health, in creating the SRHR Lab, a groundbreaking digital platform, underscores her dedication to providing youth with accessible, educative SRHR content. In her capacity as the SRHR Lab’s Social Media Manager and Strategist, Leisha orchestrates impactful campaigns, widening the reach of SRHR educational content. Leisha’s remarkable contributions have earned her prestigious nominations for the Human Rights Award, City of St. John’s Applause Civic Awards, and the YWCA’s Circle of Distinction Award.

This story took place in Canada

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As a woman navigating the labyrinth of menstruation, I became acutely aware of the stark absence of comprehensive menstrual health education early on. The culture of silence surrounding periods, masked by euphemisms and perpetuated by societal norms, contributed to the normalization of shame associated with menstruation. The dismissal of period pain and the lack of empathy further fueled my determination to initiate change. This journey led to the birth of the Period Priority Project on May 6, 2022.

The Period Priority Project, a grassroots initiative, emerged as a beacon of hope in the menstrual equity movement. The impact of my advocacy project has reverberated across Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Yukon. From the outset, my mission has been clear: to challenge the status quo, dismantle stigma, and foster a community where menstrual health is a right, not a privilege.

Since its inception, the Period Priority Project has achieved remarkable milestones. I was able to distribute over 24,000 menstrual products, including pads, tampons, liners, menstrual cups, and period underwear. Recognizing the importance of sustainability, I have conducted free reusable cloth pad sewing workshops, empowering students with the knowledge and tools to manage their periods in an environmentally friendly way.

To break down barriers in educational institutions, I have also established free period product baskets in gender-inclusive washrooms across campuses in Newfoundland and Labrador. My aim is to ensure that no student has to choose between their education and their menstrual health. The Period Priority Project has also ventured into the digital realm with a Spotify Period Positivity Podcast. Each episode delves into critical topics such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, navigating menstruation as a plus-size woman, and the harsh reality of period poverty in Indigenous communities.

Education is at the heart of my advocacy. I have conducted presentations on period poverty and menstrual equity in schools, sharing valuable insights with students and educators alike. The creation of a free digital resource bank, housing presentations, and menstrual health handbooks, further contributes to the dissemination of knowledge on menstrual health.

My commitment to advocacy extends beyond local communities. The Period Priority Project has penned papers addressing critical issues such as period poverty and stigma, advocating for policy changes at both local and national levels. The impact of my work has been recognized, with a nomination for the prestigious Human Rights Award in 2022.

As the first initiative of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Period Priority Project stands alone in its dedication to advancing menstrual equity. I remain unwavering in my pursuit of positive change, determined to shatter societal barriers, and champion menstrual health for all. The Period Priority Project is not just a movement; it’s a testament to the power of grassroots initiatives in effecting real, transformative change.

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