Understanding the Menstrual Equity Movement

Tagged: Impact Products Blog

In 2017, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress — H.R. 972 — that would, among other things, provide a refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products, require each state to provide menstrual products to all female inmates and detainees at no cost, and require employers of 100 or more employees to provide menstrual hygiene products to female employees at no charge.  It did not pass.

However, some states on their own such as Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Jersey as well as in New York City and Chicago have eliminated what is often referred to the "tampon tax," the sales tax on menstrual hygiene products.

This appears to be part of a cultural change often referred to as "menstrual equity" happening here and in other states and countries around the globe. To put it bluntly, the tampon is coming out of the closet, and by making tampons available for free or with no sales taxes, this is expected to help young girls and women throughout the country better manage period symptoms.

The menstrual equity movement started about a decade ago and has been picking up steam in the past few years. A February 29, 2016, article in the New York Times reported “a growing number of advocates, entrepreneurs, and female lawmakers are … talking about menstruation publicly … and are demanding that businesses and government take menstruation into consideration when they design facilities, develop budgets, supply schools, or create anti-poverty programs.”

Further pointing out the need for menstrual equity, the Times article mentioned that while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides funds in emergencies for such things as toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, and other "everyday" toiletries, until very recently it did not provide funds for feminine hygiene products. Additionally, the article pointed out that in many public schools, girls must report to the nurse's office should they need a tampon because none are available in the girls' restrooms.

“The underlying message with this [policy] is that something is wrong with me,” according to an Ohio councilwoman interviewed for the Times article. As a point of comparison, the article noted that at George School, a private school in Newtown, Pennsylvania, signs next to the tampon dispenser in girls’ restrooms state: “These are for anyone who needs them. Never be ashamed of your body and what it needs.”

To better understand this movement, Impact-Products is providing visitors with the following online resources:

• Cleanlink: New York State To Provide Free Menstrual Products In Schools

• US News and World Report: Common Sense Care for Our Girls

• Newsweek: New York Terminates the Tampon Tax

• Huffington Post: Unanimous Vote Brings Free Tampons To NYC’s Schools, Prisons, Shelters

Impact-Products has also introduced several different "personal care vendors," tampon dispensing machines of different sizes and designs that can be installed in virtually any women's restroom, along with a full line of sanitary napkins and tampons. These products are all designed to help building administrators address the needs of today's woman as well as their own future needs, as the menstrual equity movement grows around the country. For more information on Impact's complete line of washroom care products, contact an Impact representative.