Nothing hits your bank account quite like a $15 box of tampons when you’re on a razor-thin budget. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford them in the first place.
A 2021 State of the Period report commissioned by THINX & Period found that nearly a quarter of students aged 13 to 19 struggled to afford period products. Black and Latinx students in the report were especially impacted by the cost of menstrual products.
Almost half of Black and Latinx students said that they were unable to do their best school work because they lacked access to menstrual products. And 16 percent of students overall said they’d had to forgo buying food in order to afford period products.
If you’re as mad about this as I am, you’re not alone. It turns out we’re not the only ones upset about the cost of having a period (a thing you generally can’t control).
On Monday, six New York Congresswomen, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Yvette D. Clarke, asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of the “accessibility and availability of menstrual products.”
The letter, which was obtained by Rewire News, stresses that access to menstrual products is also a racial justice issue.
“People of color are more likely to experience consistent lack of access to menstrual supplies because they disproportionately experience poverty,” wrote the delegation.
The review is only a step toward drafting Federal legislation that would increase access to period products. But some states have already begun to do work on their own solutions.
In Colorado, as of today, residents will no longer be required to pay a sales tax on tampons or diapers. And in New York, schools are required to provide students with free menstrual products.
The so-called pink tax, the tax on menstrual products, has been eliminated in roughly half of all states in the U.S.
But places that could potentially benefit the most from removing it, like Mississippi where almost a fifth of the population lives below the poverty line, still have the “pink tax” firmly in place. (Oh, and nearly a third of Mississippians living in poverty are Black according to Talk Poverty.org)
Suffice to say, there’s a lot more that legislators could do on a local and national level to ensure access to affordable period products.
So while this letter from the New York delegation is just a start, you bet this reporter and chronic complainer about the cost of tampons will be watching what comes out of it very closely.