Help End Period Poverty: A Call to Action for Members by Members

iatse891 | May 31, 2022 |

Members of IATSE 891 are speaking up about the importance of supporting the United Way Period Promise campaign. 

891 member and Union Representative George Finley says the Period Promise campaign is one important way labour organizations can contribute and make a positive difference in their communities.

“As a labor organization, we should be getting involved in the ways that we can affect the world to be a better place,” says George.

Women, girls, non-binary, and trans folks face vulnerable and daunting situations without access to necessary menstrual products. More than half of British Columbians who menstruate are unable to get the products they need because of stigma and poverty.  

From now until June 7, you can donate here to the United Way Period Promise campaign to help end period poverty in BC.

“Single mothers are choosing between buying tampons or food for their families, and trans and non-binary kids are scrambling in washrooms putting together makeshift pads that don’t suit their needs,” states the United Way.

George has their pulse on the issues that matter most to the 891 community. As a Union Representative, and chair of both the Young Workers Committee and the Pride Committee, they talk to a lot of different people. They do regular site visits to set to ensure members are feeling safe and supported, and also field calls from members with questions on everything from workers’ rights, to safety, to mental health. 

“I think one of the biggest things that I learned while I was on set is how deeply empathetic our membership is. People who work in the Arts care a lot about things that are happening in the world,” says George.

“Members on set are empathetic and want to be involved, but there needs to be more education that this is a problem, that this problem needs more support, and that it impacts a wide group of people.”

George’s been impressed to see locals going around to workplaces in past years to do presentations about the problem of period poverty leading up to the fundraising campaign. Having a diverse group of people represented in the campaign is critical.

“I do identify as a trans person. I know sometimes it's a question of whether or not a non-binary fits under that umbrella, but I do think that I do. Seeing different types of bodies that bleed involved in these campaigns is really important for people who are experiencing it,” says George.

“Maybe there's another little trans kid out there who's getting their first period and it's confusing and extremely dysphoric. Maybe their parents work on film sets and seeing that somebody from IATSE is like them and is involved with this thing, maybe that's helpful.”

Non-binary and trans folks can face greater barriers to accessing the menstrual products they need due to higher rates of poverty and stigma. Menstrual products are rarely provided for free in women’s washrooms, and almost never available in men’s washrooms, points out the ACLU.

George would love to see more 891 members actively supporting the Period Promise Campaign, and they’re not the only one.

“It’s about supporting humanity”

Finn Black has been an 891 member for 25 years and works in the Lighting Department. He describes the best parts of his job as both the chance to be in different locations all the time and getting to work with a vast array of talented and unique technicians.

“Ever heard of that classic Christmas film The Island Of Misfit Toys? That’s kind of what the film industry is like,” says Finn, referring to the animated motion picture that sees Rudolph end up in a realm full of colourful and resourceful characters.

Like many other 891 members, Finn cares deeply about how people in the motion picture industry can better support each other and their communities.

“The Period Promise Campaign should be supported, and definitely supported by an industry with an excess of resources—financial and otherwise.”

“We have the luxury of setting a good example.”

He wants to see colleagues and productions more actively supporting easier access to necessary products for those who have a period, describing being forced to go without necessary products as dehumanizing.

“Society's just made it something that's not acceptable to talk about, and hopefully we're getting better,” says Finn.

“It's just about supporting humanity, no matter how you identify, if you need these products.”

Deeper awareness of the experiences of others can go a long way to generating more empathy, something Finn can attest to. 

“It's already a hard world to live in as a female born person. I have the experience of living the first half of my life as a female, as much as I didn't identify as one, but you're treated in the world as such, as less than. Now I'm a white guy and the privilege I’m afforded because of that is absurd.”

He tries to use that privilege to remind others of the power of their words and actions and wants to see support for the Period Promise Campaign more widespread.

“This campaign is in everyone’s interest as we all have mums, sisters, partners, or daughters. Think about people close to you in your life who could be impacted by this.”

“It's important that people start to open their eyes and realize it's not just a cisgender female thing to deal with. Open your mind and think about everybody else and try and make a difference.”

“It's just, it's humanity and we have to take care of each other.”

As the industry grapples with how to operate more sustainability, it also reminds Finn of the importance of access to sustainable and reusable menstrual products when possible. 

Learn more about the push for more sustainable products in our previous post here, and you can request your donation to the Period Promise campaign go to reusable and sustainable products by adding a note in the ‘Donation Details’ box here.

Donate to the United Way Period Promise campaign here (until June 7)!