Grace Meng is literally a life-savor. She is a Democratic Congresswoman representing New York’s 6th congressional district in the New York City borough of Queens. She is also the first Asian American to represent part of New York in Congress (which you know, is a big deal and huge for diversity).
So, why do I love her? Recently, Meng discovered that women and girls are being penalized for menstruating. Seriously. Our laws currently penalize anyone who has a period (if you don’t believe me, take a look at all the new abortion legislation out there). She was so distraught when she realized how many women and girls go without pads or tampons because they can’t afford them that she’s introducing the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017, which is the first legislation in Congress to deal with menstrual hygiene product access. She also wrote an op-ed about it for Marie Claire.
In her piece, she described how many girls stay home when they have their periods, because they can’t afford feminine products. Many people don’t realize that the “tampon tax” exists in 40 states, a fact which former President Obama didn’t even know about apparently. However, getting ride of this extra tax isn’t enough, as Meng points out, especially considering 86% of women start their period unexpectedly and without necessary supplies.
Many women in low-income households can only access these products through food pantries, while female inmates and homeless women often go without them, as their access is severely limited. For female inmates in particular, access to hygiene products is insanely strict. For instance, Female inmates in Connecticut only get five pads per week to split with their bunkmate. If you’ve ever had a period, you know this is impossible when you actually have a period, meaning you’re using the same one for a week. That’s unhygienic and frankly, cruel.
Can you imagine your daughter being unable to have access to pads and tampons? Or your daughter’s friends or sisters, or perhaps, even you? We can’t always control our financial situations, nor should basic health-related products be too expensive for some because they aren’t considered necessary enough.
Meng stated her bill “would require each state to give female inmates and detainees as many tampons or pads as they need, whenever they need them—at no cost.” Not surprisingly, this means homeless women typically don’t have access to anything, and under Meng’s bill, shelters would be given “federal grant money to purchase tampons or pads.”
As of now, the bill has 21 co-sponsors, all Democrats. That’s only a handful, which means you should contact your representative to tell him or her to become a co-sponsor.