For this week’s Charitable Choices we spoke with Mia Medic, a Canadian youth activist who is helping get rid of the period poverty crisis across the province through a non-profit called Bleed The North.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Bleed the North is a federally-registered, youth-led nonprofit that aims to eliminate period poverty and period stigma across Ontario. Its main operations include providing menstrual products to Ontarians who cannot afford or access them, creating and distributing educational resources about period poverty and menstruation as a whole, and working with other organizations and people of note to eradicate the stigma surrounding menstruation.
What problem does it aim to solve?
1) Lack of awareness about the nuances of menstruation and the various socio-economic issues associated with it (ex. Period poverty, period stigma)
2) Serving menstruators who cannot afford or access period products
3) Eliminating period stigma
4) lack of unbiased, inclusive legislation and education curricula surrounding menstruation
When did you start/join it?
Bleed the North was founded in March of 2020, near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in response to the surging period poverty crisis across the province of Ontario.
What made you want to get involved?
“A lack of knowledge about period poverty and period stigma despite being a menstruator myself—it was rather interesting to see how I myself used to unconsciously perpetuate menstrual stigma by following the unsaid ‘taboo’ around talking about periods” -Briana Tang, Cheif Development Officer
“I wanted to get involved to broaden my understanding about period poverty and period stigma as in my surrounding age group it was commonly something not to ever be discussed or talked about. I also really wanted to get involved with Bleed The North specifically because of the intersectional approach I saw Bleed The North value that wasn’t like other organizations, or groups. Especially within the menstrual justice community.” -Margad, Graphics Manager
“I knew period poverty existed and I had ignored it for so long because I was privileged and it didn’t affect me. It wasn’t until NPD that I realized it affected SO MANY more people than I thought and I found that I could actually make a difference. I always knew I wanted to get involved but I didn’t take the initiative to find STUDENT RUN organizations that I could join now, and not when I’m older. Long story short… I wanted to take action and the discovery of NPD helped move up my timeline of helping the people” -Evelyn Carey, Co-Lead of Marketing for Menstrual Hygiene Day
What was the situation like when you started?
“When I started Bleed the North, it was pretty dire. The lockdown had just begun, and many menstrual organizations in Ontario had decided to shut down for the time being to figure out pandemic operations. It was this, coupled with my newfound time being sent home from school, that led me to starting what is now Bleed the North. This is the worst possible time to shut doors, because as we all know: periods don’t stop for a pandemic”. -Isabela Rittinger, President and Founder
“Menstrual education across Ontario has always been lacking. We are required to learn the absolute bare minimum, being the biology of a menstrual cycle. This education is often extremely gendered, excluding the transgender menstrual experience. The majority of people grow up unaware of what period poverty or stigma even is. Alongside pushing for accessible menstrual products, education is necessary to fight the taboo, to open discussions around period poverty”. -Mia Medić, Vice-President
How has it changed since?
“Many organizations have reopened and pivoted to a virtual model, which is really exciting to see. there are so many more menstrual organizations that are getting involved. At Bleed the north, we fully believe in collaborating to achieve our collective goals”. -Isabela Rittinger, President and Founder
“School boards across Ontario have made great leaps towards pushing for menstrual justice. We have seen a rise in motions for free menstrual products in schools, including school boards such as the YRDSB, TDSB, and DDSB. Alongside accessible menstrual products in schools, student trustees are pushing for educational campaigns surrounding menstruation, to teach students about period poverty and stigma. This will act as a supplement to the sexual education curriculum. I am so grateful and proud of the work student trustees across Ontario are doing.” -Mia Medić, Vice-President
What more needs to be done?
“Period products need to be free and accessible to all. They need to be widely available in school bathrooms, public places, office buildings, in female, male, gender-neutral and accessibility washrooms. Until the government and other actors make decisions for the wellbeing of all menstruators, organizations like Bleed the North continue operating to fill the gaps”.-Isabela Rittinger, President and Founder
“We cannot fight period poverty and stigma without education. We need to push for reform of the current Ontario sexual education curriculum. Alongside the biology of menstruation, students need to be taught about period poverty and stigma. It is also necessary that this education is gender-neutral. At Bleed the North, we reiterate that not all women menstruate, and not all those that menstruate are women. We must separate feminine language from periods.” -Mia Medić, Vice-President
How can our readers help?
“I would like to acknowledge that everyone’s advocacy and support look different. We appreciate any step to help push for menstrual equity. Consider just looking through our Instagram (@bleedthenorth) and reading through our posts. Challenge what you already know about periods. Challenge yourself to learn. Once you are ready, spark those uncomfortable conversations with your peers. Push for open dialogue around menstruation. Cis-men, I specifically call on you. Your voice within the menstrual justice movement is necessary, and I urge you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Education is a good start.” -Mia Medić, Vice-President
You can donate to Bleed the North through our Chuffed: https://chuffed.org/project/bleedthenorth-donations. All proceeds go to fighting period poverty and stigma in Ontario.
Do you have any events coming up?
On May 28th, 2021, Bleed the North ran a virtual event for International Menstrual Hygiene Day. The event ‘Wanted. Intersectionality in the Menstrual Justice Realm” highlighted differing menstruators’ identities and how these intersecting identities influence the menstrual experience. Despite the event already taking place, you can learn more about the objective and message on our social media! We would be happy to email a recording of the event, per request.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Moontime Sisters: “Moon Time Sisters is a collective of people who want to help young menstruators in northern and remote communities throughout Saskatchewan and Ontario access menstrual products that they otherwise could not afford”