On Tuesday, the NYC city council unanimously voted to provide free pads for women in schools, jails and shelters.
“This package is remarkable,” New York City councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland told a crowd after the vote. “It is the only one of its kind, and it says periods are powerful. Menstrual hygiene products are as necessary as toilet paper — and no one is freaking out about toilet paper.”
The reason is simple: Sanitary products are costly, especially for low-income women, and often they have to choose between buying these essentials or buying food.
“Some women are living paycheck to paycheck,” Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, vice president at NYU School of Law, told the Huffington Post. “And when you can’t buy tampons in bulk at Costco, or you can’t carry around a huge amount of them, say, if you’re homeless — you end up paying more.”
Even worse, some students opt to stay home during their periods, putting their educations at risk.
“I was the director of an after-school program in Queens, New York, and I came to learn that young girls would skip out and go home because they were on their periods. Sometimes it was due to the discomfort, but other times they’d run out of pads and were too embarrassed to ask a teacher or nurse,” Ferreras-Copeland told Yahoo Health in 2015. “They preferred to lose learning time in order to save face.”
This shouldn’t happen in the U.S. — and it shouldn’t happen anywhere.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign it into law within a month. Let’s hope other cities take the lead and offer the same to women in their cities. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s eliminate the “pink tax,” too.