Rich Pedroncelli / AP
SACRAMENTO, California – California public schools and colleges are required to stock their toilets with free menstrual products under a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday.
The move comes as suffragettes across the country are pushing for affordable access to pads, tampons and other items.
California’s latest effort builds on a 2017 law requiring low-income schools in deprived areas to provide free menstrual products to students.
It expands the law to grades 6 through 12, community colleges, and the California State University and University of California systems starting with the 2022/23 school year. It encourages private schools and universities to follow suit.
“Our biology does not always send an alert when we are about to menstruate, which often means that we have to stop everything we do and deal with a period,” said Democratic MP Cristina Garcia of her legislation. “Just as toilet paper and paper towels are available in virtually every public bathroom, so should menstrual products.”
Several other states are considering or demanding free menstrual products in public schools, according to the Women’s Voices for the Earth advocacy group. Purdue University in Indiana decided last year to offer free feminine hygiene products in campus bathrooms.
“California joins a growing number of states showing that menstrual justice is a human rights issue,” advocacy group PERIOD said in a statement. “No student should ever lose study time because of their period, period.”
California had also previously lifted a tax on menstrual products, which was estimated to cost women $ 20 million a year.
According to Women’s Voices for the Earth, more than half of the states still tax menstrual products as “luxuries”. Many countries around the world have abolished such taxes, including the UK, Australia, Canada and India.