New York City never fails to be the first at making a difference around issues that matter.
This week NYC made history by passing the nation’s first city to provide free tampons and sanitary pads in public schools, homeless shelters, and jails. Majority of states unfairly overtax tampons and sanitary pads. Something that probably should have been done ages ago is finally happening in one city in the U.S.
Tampons, periods and menstruation are generally thought of as taboo subjects which is why they have fallen behind like many other issues surrounding women’s health, such as access to birth control. Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti brought the controversial topic up in 2014, “Menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such. But much in the same way insurance coverage or subsidies for birth control are mocked or met with outrage, the idea of women even getting small tax breaks for menstrual products provokes incredulousness … because it has something to do with vaginas. Affordable access to sanitary products is rarely talked about outside of NGOs – and when it is, it’s with shame or derision.”
If we can pass out free condoms in school, this should follow as a natural necessity like toilet paper. Girls in school now have the convenience of getting this directly from bathroom stalls, saving the awkward duck walk to the nurse’s office when Mother Nature pays a visit. Ladies who are locked up can save their commissaries towards other purchases having this be provided by jails without a cost. Most shelters and jails do provide tampons and sanitary pads but remain limited and always under stocked, this now insures every woman won’t have to worry how they can manage the day without staining their garments.
Women who can’t afford this necessity may lead to unsanitary health conditions like vaginal infections and a weakened immune system. Young girls, embarrassed to go to school will end up staying home and missing out on a full education.
Julissa Ferraras-Copeland, New York City council member stated “Providing menstrual hygiene products privately, immediately and for free is also about sending a body-positive message by not perpetuating shame and humiliation, and acknowledging that women’s bodies, even those of women serving time in prison, deserve some dignity during their periods.”
This proposal that was supported by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, will hopefully lead the way for other states as we usher in a new era for women and women’s health.