LOS ANGELES – In an ongoing effort to provide free hygiene products, reduce ‘Period Poverty’ and improve fairness for women in LA, the Los Angeles City Council passed a measure authored by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield to report on the feasibility of providing these products for free in all restrooms in City-owned facilities. Women in the United States face economic disparities and inequities compared to their male counterparts, including the costs associated with basic hygiene such as menstrual care.
Women have little choice but to spend on average $150 to $300 a year on feminine hygiene products, USA Today reports, making girls and women of child bearing age choose between buying needed hygiene products, food, or other essentials. Promoting hygiene, wellness, and public health, Councilmember Blumenfield introduced this motion to make products readily available in public facilities to reduce the financial burden for women and provide a modicum of hygiene equity.
“It’s time to end the stigma around periods and menstrual health that has kept policymakers dragging their feet,” Blumenfield said. “Providing feminine hygiene products at no cost in City-owned facilities should be just as normal as providing toilet paper or soap.”
According to a report in Obstetrics and Gynecology from 2019, nearly two thirds of low income women surveyed from a major city could not afford menstrual hygiene products during the previous year, and more than one in five women said they had this problem every single month. Price barriers to these products have forced some women to use rags, toilet paper, or even diapers in lieu of better options.
The United Nations Population Fund uses the term “period poverty” to describe the struggle many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products. The term also refers to the increased economic vulnerability women and girls face due to the financial burden posed by menstrual supplies. Period poverty not only affects women and girls in developing countries; it also affects women in wealthy, industrialized countries.
With the passage of this motion, Los Angeles is joining a national movement pushing for menstrual equity, making feminine hygiene products accessible to all women, regardless of their socio-economic status. Blumenfield’s motion passed shortly after Governor Newsom’s budget proposal which calls for a two year moratorium on taxing menstrual products and diapers. These actions demonstrate the massive movement underway to break down barriers of access for essential feminine hygiene products.
“As California has started providing menstrual products in public schools and ends the ‘Tampon Tax’, Los Angeles is continuing to improve public health for women,” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “Providing feminine hygiene products in City-owned facilities is the next logical step and I believe it can help a lot of women at minimal cost to the taxpayers.”
Whether these free products are for a young woman who finds herself in an unexpected situation or for a person who cannot afford to purchase their own feminine hygiene products, Blumenfield hopes this motion will help remove the stigma some associate with menstruation and provide hygiene supplies to those who need them.
With the passage of this motion, the Los Angeles City Council instructs the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Department of General Services to report on the feasibility and costs associated with providing feminine hygiene products at no cost in all the restrooms in City-owned facilities. More details will be available once the report is concluded, which will have estimated costs and other details pertinent to the implementation of the program. This motion comes on the heels of Blumenfield’s Equal Pay LA motion, another major push to address the gender gap in Los Angeles.