New York City made history Tuesday when legislators passed a law that provides free access to tampons and sanitary pads in public schools, homeless shelters and jails.
The bill, which passed by a unanimous vote, is the first of its kind in the United States at a time when cities across the world – including New York City – are pushing to eliminate taxes on menstrual-hygiene products.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will place dispensaries in the bathrooms of 800 public schools, providing access for around 300,000 students. Another 23,000 women in homeless shelters will also be covered; in shelters alone the law will provide up to 2 million tampons and 3.5 million pads a year.
City councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland proposed the bill, and argued for their accessibility ahead of the vote.
“They’re as necessary as toilet paper,” Ferraras-Copeland said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio needs to approve the bill for it to take effect, but his administration has spoken in favor before, and he is expected to sign it into law.
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His wife, Chirlane McCray, performed a poem titled “Tampons for All” in support of eliminating the city’s tampon tax. A bill in favor has passed through the New York State Assembly, and will soon go through the Senate.
Chicago repealed their tax on feminine hygiene products in March, and the European Union has agreed to give each of their member states the option to decide independently if they will charge a tax.