Dear Commons Community,
On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation making free menstrual products available in all New York City public schools, shelters and jails. The bill had passed with a unanimous vote by the City Council in June, after council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland proposed it earlier this year. As reported in various media:
“There should be no stigma around something as fundamental as menstruation,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press release. “These laws recognize that feminine hygiene products are a necessity ― not a luxury.”
The new laws will ensure free menstrual products are readily available in public school restrooms for 300,000 girls and 23,000 women in shelters, according to the Associated Press. While jails already provide free menstrual supplies, advocates say the supplies are inadequate. Under the new law, jails will have to offer feminine hygiene products to inmates immediately upon request.
“Students should be able to concentrate on their studies, New Yorkers in shelter should be able to focus on rebuilding their lives, and women in our Correction Department should be able to work toward rehabilitation and release without the indignity of inadequate access to tampons and pads,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The legislation makes New York City the first city in the nation to proactively guarantee access to menstrual hygiene products, according to the city council.
Tampons and pads can be unaffordable for many women, costing an estimated$18,000 over a lifetime. The new law is meant to reach low-income women and girls who need them the most.
“No young woman should face losing class time because she can’t afford or simply cannot access feminine hygiene products,” Ferreras-Copeland said in a release earlier this year. “Providing young women with pads and tampons in schools will help them stay focused on their learning and sends a message about value and respect for their bodies.”
The next victory for menstrual rights in New York is expected to come at the state level. In May, the NYS state legislature approved a bill to remove all taxes on menstrual products, according to the New York Times, and Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law later this year.”
All of this makes good practical sense. Congratulations to the NYC City Council and Mayor de Blasio for moving this forward.