On Tuesday, New York City passed the first legislative package in America that ensures access to free pads and tampons in public facilities like schools, shelters, and prisons. Hallelujah, it’s raining tampons in this piece.

This follows recent movement on the tampon front in the state: In May, a bill created by New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal that would abolish the “tampon tax” was passed by the State Legislature and sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature. At the same time, proposed legislation for providing free tampons and pads to girls and women in city public schools, shelters, and prisons was introduced, with a pilot program already in the works. The New York City Council vote on Tuesday, which was unanimous, expands this program, and covers free menstrual hygiene products for anyone who needs them in those public domains.

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The prime sponsor for menstrual-hygiene products in schools is New York City council member and finance chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. New York Magazine shared her statement on the bill:

“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.”

Dispensers are scheduled to be installed in 800 schools at an initial cost of $3.7 million. The program should reach about $300,000 students and have an annual upkeep cost of $1.9 million. Women and girls in shelters will receive yearly aid in an estimated 2 million tampons and 3.5 million pads, which comes out to about $540,000.

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Women in prisons, who are currently issued a small number of pads, will no longer have that amount capped and can opt for tampons if that’s their preference. As things stand, women who want tampons or more menstrual-hygiene products must buy them at the commissary. At some prisons, the cost of 8 tampons is $4.23, and inmates generally earn $.75 a day working in the facilities.

The bills still need Mayor de Blasio’s signature, but his administration supports the legislation.


Image via Flickr.