LOS ANGELES, CA – Today the Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s effort to launch a large-scale pilot program to provide free menstrual hygiene products in city restrooms. Called the ‘Menstrual Products Program’ (MPP), this pilot will launch in 30 city restrooms starting in April. Since authoring the original motion in 2020, Blumenfield has been working with colleagues and city departments on necessary reports to solidify key details before rolling it out.
“Providing menstrual products for free in city restrooms should be no more controversial than offering soap and toilet paper- it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Blumenfield. “We must end the stigma around menstrual health and reduce the costly financial burden that these products can have, especially on young or low income Angelenos.”
“The basic hygiene needs of those who menstruate are too often not met because the majority of policy makers simply don’t have these needs,” said Councilmember Raman. “I commend Councilmember Blumenfield for leading on this issue and working to lay the groundwork for our schools, libraries, and parks to be more equitable for people who menstruate.”
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. There is little choice but to spend on average $150 to $300 a year on menstrual hygiene products. USA Today has reported that many lower income Angelenos choose between buying needed hygiene products, food, or other essentials. Promoting hygiene, wellness, and public health, the MPP will make products readily available in public facilities to reduce the financial burden for women and provide a modicum of hygiene equity.
"Period supplies should be free and accessible in every bathroom, as is toilet paper and soap,” said Laura Rathbone, Founder of Sisters on the Streets, a local organization working to bring awareness to the stigma of homelessness and menstruation. “Regardless of whether a person can afford them or not, because ultimately, if you need one and they are not accessible, you're in the same circumstance. Providing period products in public spaces will help menstruators maintain their hygiene while keeping up with their daily activities."
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.
Whether these free products are for a young girl who finds herself in an unexpected situation or for any person who cannot afford to purchase their own menstrual hygiene products, Blumenfield hopes this motion will help remove the stigma some associate with menstruation and provide hygiene supplies to those who need them.
The pilot program will operate in 30 female and all-gender restrooms at key public libraries including:
- Central Branch- 630 W. 5th Street
- Canoga Park Branch- 20939 Sherman Way
- West Valley Branch- 19036 Vanowen Street
- Los Feliz Branch- 1874 Hillhurst Avenue
- Will and Ariel Durant Branch- 7140 W. Sunset Boulevard
- Junipero Serra Branch- 4607 S. Main Street
The purpose of the pilot is to field-test various types of dispensers and determine usage, maintenance needs and other costs, with a view toward expanding the program to restrooms in all City facilities.
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