Jana Girdauskas, Founder and Director of The Period Purse

Introduction by David CS
Jana Girdauskas is the Founder of The Period Purse, a non-profit organization that assists homeless women living on the street and in shelters, drop-in centres as well as other spaces targeted towards marginalized communities, by providing them with menstrual hygiene products and personal care items. The Period Purse was founded in 2017, and a year later, Jana and her team convinced Toronto Mayor John Tory to declare May 28 as Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Jana is a graduate of Wester University with a BA in Psychology.  She also holds a BA in Education from York University.  She is a special education teacher, and a mother of two.
Homeless individuals who menstruate face a number of barriers to obtaining tampons and pads, as well as increased difficulty in accessing the proper hygiene materials and conditions for optimal reproductive health.  The Period Purse strives to achieve menstrual equity by providing marginalized menstruators with access to free menstrual products, and to reduce the stigma surrounding periods through public education and advocacy, directly to homeless, abused, and impoverished menstruators across Canada. Each Period Purse provides homeless individuals with a much-needed emotional boost by distributing tampons and pads, chocolate, chapstick, new socks and underwear, and makeup, in a fashionable purse.
Jana told the story of how she became the “accidental” founder of Period Purse started after she made a New Year’s Resolution to give back to her community. She learned that homeless women were forced to resort to unsanitary and risky methods of dealing with their periods because hygiene products were not affordable. She decided to create a small package of various sanitary products, some cosmetics and a scarf, and keep them it in her car in preparation for the next time she saw a homeless woman while driving around the city. However, she had everything she needed to fill a purse at home, but she didn't have the purse. So she asked a local Facebook group if anyone had a spare purse lying around.
"Sure enough, I got one purse, then another, and another.  Just eight days after that first request for a purse, I was contacted by the local media. A month later I received 400 filled purse donations, and several other women across Canada had been inspired to open chapters in their own communities.”
“It's my belief that The Period Purse has gained such momentum for three reasons: It's a cause that's easy to connect with. It's a simple way for people to give and make a difference. And it's a project that spreads kindness during a time when our world needs it so badly. People thank me for starting this organization, but it's not me. I'm just driving the bus! It's been the overwhelming support of community members across Canada that has contributed to our exponential growth".
Period Purse has earned the support of several corporations, the city of Toronto, and now RTE.
Norma presented Jana with a donation cheque for $2,500. For more information on The Period Purse, please visit www.theperiodpurse.com.