Our Periods Cost Us Too Damn Much -- & This Woman Wants to Change That

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Getting your period every single month is hard enough without adding extra financial challenges and an emotional burden to it. For many girls and women, not just in developing countries but right here in the US, menstruation is a much tougher experience than it should be, because they have limited access to menstrual hygiene items. That's why Rep. Grace Meng, a Democratic Congresswoman who represents Queens, New York, introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972) earlier this month. 

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The legislation includes five provisions to help different populations of women and girls get better access to tampons and pads. 

In an op-ed Meng wrote about the legislation for MarieClaire.com, she explains that her bill would help increase access and reduce the cost of monthly menstrual supplies for many American women by directing employers with 100 or more employees in their company to provide tampons and pads to their employees free of charge, providing a refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products, and allowing individuals to buy tampons and pads with money they contribute to their flexible spending accounts.

More from CafeMom: What the Color of Your Period Blood Says About Your Health

All in all, passing this legislation would be a huge win for women everywhere, not to mention a major boon for our daughters in school, as they learn to understand and love their bodies. Sure, generations of girls who have come of age since the '70s have had Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and other messaging that normalizes menstruation, but that doesn't change the fact that there are plenty of seventh graders out there who may be shamed out of school for getting their periods.
 
This is an utterly unacceptable scenario that happens all the time, right here in the US, as Meng points out in her op-ed:
Did you know that there are girls who skip school when they get their periods? If they can't afford pads or tampons and don't want anyone to see they've stained their clothes, they may feel like they have no choice. That's not just something that happens in developing countries. It happens right here in the United States. Right in my home district of Queens, New York.
She also explains that her bill would help homeless women (who often resort to using rags or nothing at all) by giving homeless shelters the option to use federal grant money to purchase tampons or pads.
 
And it would address the issues female inmates currently face, like not being allotted as many pads or tampons as they could possibly need, whenever they need them. (Meng points out that, for instance, female inmates in Connecticut only get five pads per week to split with their bunkmate. Awful.)
 
The fact that Rep. Ming has introduced this legislation is notable in and of itself, but that she's doing it while facing a particularly uphill battle (the Trump administration and a Republican majority in Congress) makes it even more admirable.
 
 
It's also a reminder that just because women's health and girls' well-being is not a priority to many conservatives, the left shouldn't stop fighting for what's right. Rep. Meng was elected to go to DC and stand up for the needs of her constituents. By introducing this legislation, she's doing that and standing up for the needs of women across the country. Bravo to her.  
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