This feature was part of our July 22 “A Salute to Construction in Our Community” special section. Click here to see the full edition.
It’s the right thing to do. Period.
Construction workers on the Pattullo Bridge Replacement project won’t have to worry about not having menstrual products available, thanks to a new initiative by BC Infrastructure Benefits (BCIB), the Crown corporation managing workforce development on several public infrastructure projects.
In May, BCIB became the first Crown corporation to join the United Way’s Period Promise, making the commitment to reduce period poverty, de-stigmatize menstruation, and help more people get access to the products they count on.
“This commitment removes one of the barriers faced by people who menstruate,” said apprentice steamfitter Miranda Kurucz. “The products will be there when they need them, so they can focus on what they do best: building important public infrastructure.”
Kurucz is a member of Build TogetHER, the women’s committee of the BC Building Trades. The committee reached out to BCIB amid the current push to attract more women and other underrepresented groups into the skilled construction trades. Currently, women only represent about five per cent of the sector.
“We have a skilled trades shortage, so there has been a push for some time to recruit people from underrepresented groups, including women,” said Mollie Routledge, a journey electrician and member of Build TogetHER. “The more ways we can demonstrate that construction is welcoming to women, the more inclined they’ll be to consider a career in the sector.”
Research by the United Way found that more than 20 per cent of people who menstruate missed work due to being unable to access menstrual products. Meanwhile, 30 per cent of people who menstruate have had to leave work for the same reason. Menstruation, in fact, is one of the top two reasons that women miss work in Canada.
BCIB signing the Period Promise to provide barrier-free menstrual products on construction sites also sends a critical message to the industry, notes Chelsea French, who co-chairs Build TogetHER and is a commercial transportation mechanic.
“Menstruation is a biological function, not a women’s issue,” said French. “Removing these barriers helps destigmatize menstruation while being inclusive to all people who menstruate, including nonbinary people and trans men.”
Taking this step to embrace barrier-free access to menstrual products could have a profound impact across the construction sector, said the United Way’s Neal Adolph.
“It signals that people who menstruate belong in the skilled trades, and have a right to learn the skills to build B.C.”
Indeed, Build TogetHER is hopeful this is the start of a trend in the sector, with BCIB an early adopter of what will ultimately become common practice in construction.
BCIB employs the skilled labour force on infrastructure projects built under B.C.’s Community Benefits Agreement, including the Pattullo Bridge replacement, the widening of Highway 1, the Broadway Subway and the Cowichan District Hospital replacement.
– BC Building Trades Council