Little Black Dress Initiative

Little Black Dress Initiative

The iconic Little Black Dress (LBD) is usually thought of as just a fashionable wardrobe staple – great for business or a fun night out.

Founded in 2014 by the Junior League of London, the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) is a week-long awareness and fundraising campaign that harnesses the power of social media to illustrate the restrictions poverty places on choices, opportunities, and access to resources. Advocates wear one black dress (or outfit) for five consecutive days, in an effort to spark conversations and awareness about poverty and related issues.

To date, the Junior League of Calgary has held 4 LBDI bringing awareness of period poverty in Canada.

1.More than two million women in Canada live at or below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure.  A 2018 study by Plan International found that feminine hygiene products were one of the “top three material costs of being a woman.” It also revealed that one-third of Canadian women under 25 have struggled to afford menstrual products for themselves or their dependents.

2.Canada is home to about 205,000 female shelter users and school-aged girls from low-income families. If Canada were to provide sanitary products to those individuals, the annual cost would be $18 million. (By comparison, the federal government will spend $3.5 billion over the next five years to “advance gender equality” internationally.)

3.A box of tampons or pads cost approximately $10 in Canada. Assuming a woman spends $20 a month on feminine hygiene products, which adds up to $240 a year. For women with low incomes, this is a significant amount and often means choosing between transportation (bus passes), food and other essentials.

4.The stigma surrounding periods has been shown to directly affect a girl’s potential to succeed. If a girl misses school every time she has her period, she is set 145 days behind her fellow male students. Even then, most girls in the developing world choose to drop out of school altogether rather than face the embarrassment and shame of being unprepared for their periods.

5.A survey of 1,000 women, 500 of whom had suffered from period poverty, revealed that a lack of access to sanitary products can have a far-reaching effect on young women’s lives. Nearly two thirds admitted they lack confidence because of bullies at school, while 39 per cent now suffer from anxiety or depression.

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