New York passes bill to provide free tampons in schools, prisons and shelters

The council says the products are "essential" for health and well-being

New York, City Council, tampons, Department of Education, Melissa Mark-Viverito, prisons, shelters

Women's sanitary products on sale at a small pharmacy | Image: Alastair Grant / AP/Press Association Images

The city council of New York in the US has voted unanimously to provide feminine hygiene products in schools, prisons and homeless shelters.

The council says the products are "essential for the health and well-being of women and girls."

It adds that inadequate menstrual hygiene management is associated with both health and psycho-social issues, particularly among low-income women.

"Access to feminine hygiene products has proven to be limited for certain populations, including public school students, the homeless, and incarcerated women."

The move will require the US Department of Education to make feminine hygiene products available at no cost to students in the bathrooms of school buildings serving female students in grades six through 12.

"The provision of free feminine hygiene products in public schools is an important service to students who would otherwise not be able to afford them," said NYC education committee chairperson Daniel Dromm.

"These free tampon and sanitary napkin dispensers will ensure that girls and young women avoid the discomfort and embarrassing situations that can get in the way of learning", he added.

"No-brainer, and long overdue"

The bill is set to take effect 120 days after its enactment by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

It also requires the US Department of Correction to provide all female inmates with products "as soon as practicable upon request at the Department's expense."

It would also require the Department to provide individuals who are arrested and are detained in the custody of the department for at least 48 hours with feminine hygiene products.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: "Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury for women, but rather an essential part of women’s health."

"Whether it’s in public schools, shelters, or even our city jails, giving women access to these products is a no-brainer, and long overdue."

"For students who will no longer miss class because they do not have a pad or tampon to mothers at shelters and women in prison who will have access to these critical yet often overlooked products, this package makes our city a more fair place," she added.