A bill that would provide free menstrual hygiene products to girls in public schools could become a law today as it makes its way to California Gov. Jerry Brown to be signed.
The bill would require schools funded by Title I — those in school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty — to provide students in grades six through 12 with menstrual hygiene products like tampons and pads, according to the Los Angeles Times.
AB 10, as the bill is known, would only affect schools in which 40% or more of the student population falls under the federal poverty threshold, according to the Sacramento Bee. In the 48 contiguous states, that threshold is set at about $12,000 a year for a household of one, with an increase of just over $4,000 for each additional household member.
The bill could help girls throughout California stay in school during their periods. Girls around the world miss out on education because of their periods every month.
The problem is particularly acute in developing countries like Sierra Leone where more than 20% of girls miss school during their periods, according to Girl Effect, an organization focused on ending global poverty and gender inequality. In Nepal, some girls are confined to “menstruation huts” during their periods and are unable to attend school and fully participate in everyday life. And several women and girls have died in these “menstruation huts.” One girl in India recently committed suicide after a teacher shamed her over a period stain on her uniform.
But it’s not just girls in developing countries whose lives are negatively impacted by menstruation stigma. Girls everywhere have experienced this stigma and it is exacerbated when menstrual products are not affordable.
"We hear stories about young girls who miss school on a daily basis or extend the use of their menstrual products and get infected," Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who introduced AB 10, said before the Assembly unanimously passed the bill on Sept. 11.
Global Citizen campaigns for gender equality and equal access to education. Making sure girls have access to affordable menstrual hygiene management products is an important step toward both. You can take action here.
CHIME FOR CHANGE is a global campaign founded by Gucci in 2013 to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world. The campaign uses innovative approaches to promote gender equality. Co-founded by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Salma Hayek Pinault, CHIME FOR CHANGE works with a coalition of partner organizations, including the Kering Foundation, Facebook, and Hearst Magazines.