Free Tampons for All Women in NYC Schools Are Just What the Doctor Ordered

New York providing free tampons in public schools

I come from a middle class family, I'm a child of divorce, and my mother has always openly discussed everything from condoms to tampons. And while I've never been ashamed of my period, I have been ashamed to say that there have been times in my adult life in which I had to choose between food and feminine hygiene products. And sure, I could've picked up the phone and reached out to my parents -- but being separated with other children, they have their own sh*t going on. Therefore I didn't; instead, I bled in silence. So although I may not come from an affluent background, I don't come from a poverty-stricken one either, and yes, I still suffer from the shame of not being able afford the so-called luxury of tampons. Now imagine the women and girls who are living in poverty -- imagine their shame. Well, the city of New York finally did just that

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Our local government finally realized that these hygienic products are indeed necessities and not at all luxuries, enacting a law that serves to help those who truly are in need. 

More from CafeMom: The Tampon Tax Is Becoming a Thing of the Past -- About Bloody Time

And, as a result, Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that both pads and tampons will be free to young women in public schools -- making New York City the largest city in the country to provide free feminine hygiene products in a way that doesn't involve getting a pass to the nurse's office in the middle of third period, or, worse, staying home from school all together. 

NYU School of Law's vice president, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, told the Huffington Post:

Some women are living paycheck to paycheck 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.

Fortunately, the new bill passed (49 to 0) -- and, pending de Blasio's signature (which is a given at this point), the legislation will provide dispensers in the women's restrooms in public schools from grade six through 12 and will impact 300,000 students -- costing the city $3.7 million for the first year.

Michigan and Wisconsin are among the other states gunning for free hygienic products, may it be in school or just in the general public. However, the New York City bill has made history in that it has not only decided to provide pads and tampons to public schools, but to shelters as well as prisons (ironically, a reoccurring discussion that takes place in the latest season of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black).  

Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, a New York City Council member, called the package "remarkable" in a speech outside City Hall and added, "It is the only one of its kind, and it says periods are powerful."

More from CafeMom: Reusable Tampons: Great Idea or Gross?

Nevertheless, for those of us inside and outside of prison, we're all forced to pay the piper quite a steep price for something natural and, as Ferreras-Copeland says, "as necessary as toilet paper." Per the Huffington Post, costs related to menstruation can add up to nearly $18,000 in a woman's lifetime (which accounts for medicine for cramps, as well as the sanitation products).

While this is a struggle all women face -- young or old, incarcerated or free, homeless or middle class -- we're truly hoping it will greatly reduce the stigma that is attached to menstruation for young girls, for the sake of future generations. And we've got a good feeling that menstrual equity will do just that. But, moreover, we're hoping that this major piece of legislation will lead other states to follow suit, as this is crucial in reducing the shame that inevitably grows when women aren't given the proper access to the proper necessities.

(Michigan, Wisconsin -- we're looking at you.)  

 

Image via iStock.com/Artfoliophoto

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