In a piece of historic legislation, New York City passed a law to provide tampons for all girls and women in public schools, correctional facilities, and shelters across the state.
Not only is this the first time in the United States that a law like this has been passed, but it also passed by a landslide: NYC council members voted 49-0 in favor of providing pads and tampons to women who need them at no cost to girls and women in state-run facilities in the city.
Finally the gap between gender issues and legislature narrows as lawmakers in New York came to the conclusion menstrual hygiene is a matter of economic, health and education policy.
This issue has been at the forefront, thanks to initiatives like Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn campaign, which promotes education for all the world’s girls. Sixty-two million girls are out of school, many due to lack of access to pads or tampons.
In the U.S., homeless shelters and correctional facilities have advocated for the urgent need of pads and tampons for the women they house.
Period taboos and stigma around discussing menstrual health and management prevented policymakers from touching this topic for decades. It wasn’t until recent years, with an assist from hashtags like #TamponTax and innovative brands like Thinx, that talking about periods gained global attention.
The conversation at a policy level is more limited. There is an implication for taxes and questions around how pads and tampons will be distributed and managed in schools, jails, and shelters for women. However, these are small in comparison to the importance of keeping girls and women healthy and educated.
The fact that zero city council members voted against this is a huge step forward for improving the lives of girls and women here in New York. Acknowledging that access to menstrual health products is necessary for the health and wellbeing of all women is the first step, and passing laws to make this happen must follow. Let’s hope to see this type of change for girls and women around the world too.