Forward Thinking New York City Wants To Provide Free Tampons


“These items are as essential as toilet paper, helping us prevent health risks and fulfill our daily activities uninterrupted.”

New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, have introduced a package of legislation that would ensure free sanitary products to girls and women in public schools, homeless shelters and correctional facilities.

If a student in the New York City school system is menstruating, they must visit the nurse to get a tampon or a pad. The majority of homeless shelters do not provide feminine hygiene products and they don’t usually receive donations of sanitary products from the public. Sanitary products are a basic necessity that homeless women often can’t afford. Tampons and pads are not covered by food stamps or WIC. One part of the package would require the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide free sanitary products to all women in temporary homeless shelters.

Another bill in the package would guarantee that all city schools have enough sanitary products in stock to cover 270,570 female students.

third bill in the package would require the Department of Corrections to offer all female inmates free name-brand products through the commissary and be readily available upon request. The current system only provides jails with 144 generic pads per week per 50 inmates.

Ferreras-Copeland told the New York Times that the current formula is “ridiculous,” and she added, “You don’t ration toilet paper or ask for permission for more toilet paper… You shouldn’t have to for these products.”

“These items are as essential as toilet paper, helping us prevent health risks and fulfill our daily activities uninterrupted,” Ferreras-Copeland continued, “No student, homeless individual or inmate should have to jump through hoops, face illness or feel humiliated because they cannot access pads or tampons.”

The estimated price tag for the legislative package is $5 million per year with the lion’s share of the monies going to the city schools.

Ferreras-Copeland also told the Times that she could foresee introducing future bills making free sanitary products available at city public hospitals, parks, and community programs. “This has been so taboo for so long, that no one even thought about it,” she said.

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