Carolina Gutierrez greets me with a smile. She’s standing in the upstairs bar of Jack Astor’s on John Street. On a table next to her sits a large clear plastic container labelled “Tampon Tuesday.” It’s bursting with boxes of tampons and pads. She looks up at me: “Have you brought a donation?”
This is Tampon Tuesday, a once-a-month networking event that helps women meet women, while also helping disadvantaged women with a very basic need.
On the fourth Tuesday of every month, women are invited to gather at Jack Astor’s and enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed post-work networking event while munching on free food courtesy of the restaurant. Why Tampon Tuesdays? The entrance fee is a box of sanitary supplies, and all donations are passed on to Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank.
Mandi Fields started the first Tampon Tuesday three years ago in London, Ont. While touring the London Food Bank, she noticed a complete lack of sanitary supplies. “Where are the tampons?” She asked, and learnt that it just didn’t occur to people to donate them.
So she started organizing. Jack Astor’s was immediately on board, and though there were only a dozen people at the first event, it quickly grew. Today, as many as 140 people regularly attend. “The Tampon Tuesday name puts it on the radar, because it’s so provocative,” says Fields with a grin.
When Gutierrez caught wind of the concept, she immediately set to work bringing it to Toronto.
“We don’t want there to be a mother out there who has to decide between buying milk for her kids and buying sanitary supplies,” says Gutierrez. And she also finds it fun: “At networking events people can be so pushy. Here, everyone is relaxed.”
Both women say one of the biggest draws is the ambassadorship program. Every Tampon Tuesday, two speakers address the group. One is a woman in a high profile position, and the other is a small business owner or entrepreneur. In London, ambassadors have included a judge, the mayor, and even the provincial minister of health.
The turnout at the inaugural Toronto event was about 30 women and a couple of men, and it’s only expected to grow as word spreads. “It turns the issue of women in poverty into a community,” says Fields. “Everybody wins.”