CLEVELAND, Aug. 31, 2018 NYI/ -- A few years ago, a movement sparked around universal access to menstrual care products, and HOSPECO® was there. Variously called Period Partner®, Free the Tampon, or bathroom equality, these grassroots initiatives seek to make tampons and pads in public restrooms as common—and free—as toilet paper, soap, and paper towels.
New York City led the way, as Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law in June 2016 to ensure free access to menstrual care products in schools. As a result, HOSPECO installed the first free menstrual care product dispensers in the High School for the Arts and Business located in the borough of Queens.
A trend was set for academic institutions to lead the way for what is becoming a revolution.
Brown University in Rhode Island followed not long after, with a student-led initiative. Only two days into their program, they received calls from multiple universities seeking guidance on ways to implement their own programs. Cornell University in New York and Bucknell University in Pennsylvania were next.
Since those early days, HOSPECO has helped dozens of high schools and universities join the universal access movement. The company’s commitment and promotion, including tools and information on its Period Partner website, aid these institutions in understanding and building the case for offering free or low-cost access to these vital hygiene products.
With adaptation of the movement by academic institutions spreading, next came entire states. In August 2017, Illinois passed the Learn with Dignity Act, requiring school districts to provide pads and tampons in restrooms of school buildings free of charge, beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
“This is an important law that will assist young women across the state,” said Illinois State Representative Litesa Wallace. “In the same way we expect to have toilet paper and soap in bathrooms, we should expect the same with feminine hygiene products.”
In October, California followed suit with a requirement that public schools where at least 40% of students meet the federal poverty threshold must stock half their restrooms with free pads and tampons. It’s part of an effort to keep low-income students attending class during their periods.
“To me this bill is not just about a medical necessity, but about access to education,” said assembly member Cristina Garcia. “A lot of young women tell us that they miss school because they cannot afford these products.”
This summer, the State of New York amended its public health laws to require free menstrual care products in all public women’s bathrooms.
HOSPECO is proud to have been there from the beginning, launching the Period Partner initiative and hiring a full-time advocate to spread the word and engage via social media. There’s a lot more work to do. The ultimate goal is nothing short of free tampons or pads in every public women’s restroom in every state—not just those in school or on campus. Every single one. Period.