Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat of New York's 6th District is tired of all the period shaming happening in today's society. That's why she is seeking to pass a bill called the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972).
According to her, there is a serious problem with "menstrual equity" in our country, or so she writes in an article in Marie Claire.
Did you know that there are girls who skip school when they get their periods? If they can't afford pads or tampons and don't want anyone to see they've stained their clothes, they may feel like they have no choice. That's not just something that happens in developing countries. It happens right here in the United States. Right in my home district of Queens, New York.
Meng focuses on a few issues regarding feminine menstrual products, and their difficulty to access for women such as those who are homeless, and at least one lawsuit in Michigan where female prisoners in a county jail were forced to split five menstrual pads between their cell mates.
To fix this, Meng's legislation would do five things, which she lists on her congressional website.
- Allow individuals to buy menstrual hygiene products with money they contribute to their flexible spending accounts.
- Provide a refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products.
- Allow grant funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Program, which can be used by homeless assistance providers for essential household items, to be used for menstrual hygiene products.
- Require each state to provide menstrual hygiene products to female inmates and detainees, at no cost and on demand, as a condition of receiving funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
- Direct the Secretary of Labor to require employers with 100 or more employees to provide menstrual hygiene products to their employees free of charge.
While some may see her point about the lack of adequate products in prison, many would take issue with the fact that her bill would force employers with larger businesses to provide menstrual products to their female employees for free. More than that, that her bill would require taxpayer dollars be handed over to provide these products for the homeless, and tax credits for low income workers.
Meng holds that this is necessary, however, as women will spend a grand total of $2,500 on menstrual products of her entire lifetime, and so action needs to be taken by both male and female legislators to "support this important bill."
According to her, this bill already has 21 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).