New York City will likely become the first city in the U.S. to guarantee access to free menstrual hygiene products to women and girls in public schools, homeless shelters, and jails.
The legislation, sponsored by New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, passed with a unanimous vote of 49-0 on Tuesday. The bill is now awaiting approval from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is expected to sign it into law next month.
The bill is a big win especially for the women and girls across the city who may find it difficult to afford menstrual hygiene products — 49 percent of public school students in New York come from low income families, according to a 2015 study by the Southern Education Foundation. In addition, out of the 300,000 students in New York City public schools, 48 percent are female. Incarceration also disproportionately affects people from low income and disadvantaged communities, and homeless women face the added stress of not always being able to afford pads or tampons.
This historic legislation presents a victory to women who have been fighting to rid their states and cities of the “pink tax,” the extra cost that subjects female-branded hygiene products, such as tampons, to a sales tax. The additional charges on these products can add to staggering amounts for women — the cost of managing periods alone cost an estimated $18,000 over a woman’s lifetime, and tampons alone cost a women about $1,700.
According to research conducted by Fusion, only five states in the U.S. do not place taxes on tampons. Most states place tax exemptions on items that are considered necessities, but the products that constitute a necessity vary by state — with tampons usually not falling under this category.
I no longer have to feed money into this particular pink tax, but it is an outrage that in the 21st century, people continue to be punished because menstruation. Perhaps if people who do menstruate just start freely bleeding all over the place, the idea will get across that yes, tampons and pads are indeed necessities, not ‘pink fripperies’ no one needs.