Dozens of women advocates joined New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens) on the steps of City Hall to announce new legislation that guarantees the women of New York City public schools, homeless shelters, and jails free menstrual hygiene products.
The bill was passed by the City Council unanimously and ensures that women who need access to pads and tampons will get them at no cost. Now, the only step left is gaining Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature, which should be obtained during this month, according to Sarah Grossman, writing for The Huffington Post.
"This package is remarkable," Ferreras-Copeland told the crowd. "It is the only one of its kind, and it says periods are powerful. Menstrual hygiene products are as necessary as toilet paper — and no one is freaking out about toilet paper."
This legislation will mean that New York City becomes the first city in the country to take a proactive stance on providing menstrual hygiene products to women in need.
Over a female's lifetime, the cost of tampons, pads, and medicines for bloating and cramps can add up to an approximate $18,000.
This expense is the reason why lawmakers targeted the 79% of public school students who live in low-income families, women from low-income and minority families who are incarcerated, and homeless women who often have to choose food over hygiene products.
"Some women are living paycheck to paycheck," Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, vice president at NYU School of Law, told The Huffington Post. "And when you can't buy tampons in bulk at Costco, or you can't carry around a huge amount of them, say, if you're homeless — you end up paying more."
The 300,000 students in NYC public schools who cannot afford menstrual products are likely to be unable to attend school if they are without the necessary products.
The legislation will cost the city roughly $4.2 million during the first year. The cost will likely drop to approximately $1.9 million after year one.
Before the new legislation, a pilot program took place at a Corona, Queens high school and then expanded to 25 schools in the Bronx and Queens. Public middle and high schools already have emergency supplies of tampons and pads, usually kept in the nurse's office. The new bill will require that the products are available in bathrooms.
Inmates are often not given enough products and are have been degraded by officers when they request hygiene products.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will distribute these products to 23,000 women and girls in the city's shelters, says Susan Rinkunas of New York Magazine.
Any woman who is in NYPD custody for over 48 hours will also be provided with pads or tampons if requested, reports Gothamist's Emma Whitford.
Lineyah Mitchell, 17, a senior at Brooklyn Tech, said the policy will be a relief to girls at her school. She added that if a girl forgets to bring pads to school, she has to find someone who has some pads — otherwise she does not have an option.
A female student can go to the nurse, says Mitchell, but if she goes between classes it is almost certain she will be late to class since there is only one nurse for 6,000 kids, writes Aidan McLaughlin of the Daily News New York.