BEACON TRANSCRIPT– NYC council has just approved on a 49-0 vote a piece of legislation designed to guarantee girls and women free access to menstrual hygiene products in public schools, jails, and homeless shelters.
The promoter of the bill Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland argued that the move is necessary as nearly 80 percent of female students in public schools come from low-income families, female inmates in NYC jails have poor access to the products because of incarceration conditions, while homeless women often have to renounce these products so they can afford food and shelter.
NYC regulators estimate that a single woman spends $18,000 just on menstrual hygiene products over her lifetime. The bill, which was passed Tuesday, is now on Mayor DeBlasion’s desk, who pledged to sign it off later this month.
Ferreras-Copeland told reporters on Tuesday that tampons and pads are as necessary to women as toilet paper is for everybody else. If the new bill morphs into law, it will turn NYC in the first U.S. city to guarantee free access to such products to all disadvantaged women.
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf of the NYU School of Law hailed the new measure. She noted that most NYC women live from paycheck to paycheck so they cannot afford buying menstrual hygiene products in bulk when they have the occasion. Additionally, if you don’t have a home you cannot carry too many of them around either. As a result, these women paradoxically pay more for the necessary products.
About 300,000 female students will benefit from the free products. Lawmakers explained that many girls choose to miss school during their periods as they lack access to affordable hygiene products.
The giveaway should cost NYC about $4 million in the first year of which $3.7 million will go to public schools. The next year, costs are expected to drop to $1.9 million.
Councilwoman Ferreras-Copeland has been a longtime advocate of affordable menstrual hygiene products for women who need them the most. She even convinced the city’s council to fund a pilot program that brought free pads and tampons to about two dozen schools in NYC’s most disadvantaged boroughs. Next, she advocated for an expansion of the measure to all of the city’s schools, shelters, and prisons.
Plus, the state of New York has made other efforts to make menstrual products available to all women. In May, the state passed a bill to remove all taxes on these products. The bill is now waiting for Gov. Cuomo’s approval.
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