By Yvette Brown
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) is pushing for greater access to feminine hygiene products.
On Sept. 22, Ferreras-Copeland, the City Department of Education and HOSPECO – the industry leader in vended feminine hygiene in North America – unveiled the first dispenser of free feminine products in the girls’ restroom of the High School of Arts and Business in Corona. The dispenser includes free Maxithins sanitary napkins and Tampax tampons for the entire school year.
“HOSPECO is proud to be a sponsor of this initiative,” said Bill Hemann, the vice president of sales and marketing for HOSPECO. “To us, vended feminine hygiene products are a required amenity in all women’s public restrooms, just like toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels.”
“This is a valuable service to provide and I am glad that girls at my school will have free access to these products,” said Arts and Business High School Principal Ana Zambrano.
This initiative comes from the push of Ferreras-Copeland and the City Council to make feminine products free in middle schools, high schools and other public facilities across the city, including hospitals, parks and cultural institutions.
“Offering free menstrual care supplies as we do toilet paper and condoms is a matter of avoiding health risks, eliminating the stigma that surrounds a natural part of a woman’s life, and for girls in school, not having to skip class because they got their period,” said Ferreras-Copeland. “Feminine hygiene products allow women and girls to carry out their daily responsibilities uninterrupted and they should always be easily accessible.”
Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito (D-Manhattan/ Bronx) has joined Ferreras-Copeland to introduce legislation for free hygiene products by next month. The Council is also set to lobby Albany to join Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey in eliminating sales tax on feminine products, considered a medical device by the FDA.
Prescription drugs, sunscreen and condoms are among some of the items that are already exempt from sales tax in New York State due to the fact that they are necessary items for a person’s health.
Ferreras-Copeland held two round table discussion with young women and over 30 advocates to inform the legislation and address the situation of poor access to pads, tampons and other menstrual supplies throughout the city.
A third round table discussion was held at the unveiling at City Hall.
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywries.