The US movement to make menstrual products free is growing – The Hill


The story at a glance

  • Scotland recently became the first country in the world to make all menstrual products free.

  • In the United States, 17 states and Washington, DC have laws requiring vintage products to be free to students while studying.

  • But there are 16.9 million people living in poverty who menstruate in the United States, and about two-thirds have to choose between buying food or menstrual products.

More and more schools, states and localities across the country are turning to free menstrual products in an effort to end period poverty and the stigma it engenders.

Scotland caught the world’s attention on Monday after lawmakers passed a new law there making all vintage products free – the first country in the world to do so.

This was done in part to address menstrual poverty, a problem defined as a lack of access to menstrual products, hygiene facilities, waste management and education. It affects women all over the world, including in the United States, and can cause physical, mental, and emotional problems.

“Proud of what we have achieved in Scotland. We are the first, but we will not be the last. says Monica Lennonthe legislator responsible for the new law.

American advocates have praised Scotland’s new law, with Period, an Oregon-based nonprofit that works to end period poverty, saying: “Scotland’s long fight to victory reminds us of all we can, and we will eradicate menstrual poverty in our lifetime.” on Twitter.

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There has been a growing movement to make menstrual products free in the United States, with Rep. Grace Meng (DN.Y.) introducing the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, which would distribute federal grant funds to states for help fund free menstrual products in schools, prisons and homeless shelters.

Although the legislation has yet to pass Congress, some states have moved forward with their own legislation. Hawaii has enacted a law that requires public schools to provide free periodicals to all students.

The Alliance for Period Supplies, a nonprofit working to end period poverty, found that 17 states and Washington, D.C., currently have laws in place that make period supplies free for college students while in college. – including California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Colorado and more.

There are also a handful of states that fund schools to provide free period products to students, but they don’t require schools to offer them. This includes Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina.

Not having access to menstrual products can be debilitating for many, as data from the nonprofit Free the Tampon Foundation found that 86% of people started their period unexpectedly in public without the supplies they needed .

If and when a woman was caught in public without the menstrual supplies she needed, 57% said they would feel embarrassed, 50% said they would feel bored, and 43% would feel anxious and stressed.

But even more serious are the 16.9 million menstruating people in the United States who also live in poverty. The Journal of Global Health Reports revealed that about two-thirds of these people are low-income women who have not been able to afford menstrual products in the past year – having to choose between food and menstrual products.

Taxes add to this burden, as sanitary napkins and menstrual pads are not exempt from federal sales tax, although proponents note that Viagra (a drug that treats erectile dysfunction) and Rogaine (a treatment for hair regrowth) are exempt.

Instead, 13 states have decided to remove their sales tax on sanitary napkins and menstrual pads, but researchers noted that this doesn’t always help low-income people.

Posted on August 16, 2022


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