The idea for this ordinance stems from a conversation Taylor had with a high school student, during which she expressed concern homeless people do not have access to menstrual products, Taylor said.
A study in St. Luis, Misuri published in
2019 found nearly two-thirds of low-income women could not afford the products at least once within the past year
National nonprofit officials who advocate for increased access to menstrual products believe Ann Arbor is the first city in the United States to pass legislation mandating products beyond municipally-owned buildings.
Michela Bedard, executive director of PERIOD., a nonprofit aiming to end stigma and high costs of menstruation, le dijo a CNN, “It’s entirely possible that there is a very small town out there that has made this decision, and they did it without any fanfare or meeting or help with advocacy. Pero ciertamente, this is the first major municipality that’s made waves like this.”
Knowing these products will be available in all public restrooms will both ensure inequities caused by menstruating are mitigated, and allow people to live uninhibited lives, said Nancy Kramer, founder of Free The Tampon, an organization promoting restroom equality to business leaders and policymakers.
“It really provides any person who’s been menstruating a peace of mind that they currently don’t have,” Kramer said. “And it just helps us not have a level of potential embarrassment or humiliation.”
A long time coming
Advocates and organizers pushing for reduced costs and stigma around menstrual products told CNN momentum has been building to what Bedard called this “tide-changing” decision over the last several years, as local and state governments took steps to increase access to these products.
, New Hampshire
y Virginia del Oeste are among the states voting to put menstrual products in school restrooms
New York City enacted a program to put free tampons and pads in schools
, homeless shelters and prisons in
2016, in a move Kramer said at the time
“leads the way forward
,” de acuerdo a un comunicado de prensa
, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston
, es believed to be the first US municipality to put menstrual products in all bathrooms in government-owned buildings in
2019, according to advocacy organization the Massachusetts Municipal Association
The Ann Arbor ordinance comes on the heels of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing a bill repealing certain taxes on menstrual products on November
4, a move deemed a win by Bedard and other organizers
“We hope that this trickles up and one day in our lifetimes we are going to realize that these products need to be everywhere, need to be accessible,” Bedard said.
At the federal level, menstrual equality organizers have seen both wins and loses in recent years.
A bill proposed in 2019 by New York Congresswoman Grace Meng would have directed all public federal buildings to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms and Medicaid to cover the cost of these products for enrollees
, pero died in Congress
, according to the non-partisan legislation tracker GovTracker
. Meng introduced a similar bill
Menstrual products began qualifying as medical expenses payable through flexible spending accounts
, health saving accounts or reimbursement programs through the passage of the CARES Act
, which provided Covid-19 relief funding in
“This is a crisis that has been completely overlooked in our country — and it’s nearing its expiration,” Bedard said. “This is going to be normalized in the next few years and in order to deal with the systemic reasons for this, we need to change this at a policy level.”