The Boston City Council wants to make sure everyone who needs menstrual products has access to them, regardless of income.
During the regular city council meeting, Councilors Matt O’Malley and Lydia Edwards called for a hearing about menstrual equity.
“It’s important to have conversations about public health that impact women, girls, and low-income families,” said O’Malley during Wednesday’s meeting.
O’Malley said low-income families often deal with the brunt of trying to pay for these products and can cost them over $100 a year. He also said this can be a difficult challenge that students face, and mentioned that 78 percent of Boston Public School students come from low-income families.
“It is an expensive necessity for families,” O’Malley added.
The town of Brookline recently voted in favor of having free period products in all public restrooms. They will install product dispensary machines in bathrooms by July 2021.
The organization Mass NOW is working on the I Am bill, which would be the first statewide legislation in Massachusetts to demand period products are free in shelters, prisons, and schools. States like New Hampshire and New York already have free products in schools available.
“We, as a city, should help all people access these products without barriers,” said O’Malley.
Edwards added that this will help end the stigma around menstrual cycles, saying these products are just like toilet paper and soap and is something that many people use.
“This sends a message that all are welcome here,” she said. “Here are the products you need to go about your life regardless of your income.”
According to Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, when students do not have access to these products, it can impact their success and productivity at school. She said when she was a teacher, she often would keep period products in her desk just in case her students needed them. She was discouraged to find out that many Boston Public Schools don’t have dispensaries in the bathroom.
“A nurse’s budget doesn’t always cover enough,” she said.
She suggested the city reach out to private companies to develop partnerships to get products at a good rate.