Soon, public school students in California won't have to worry about paying for menstrual products.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday signed into law the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, which makes period products available for free at public schools serving students in the 6th through 12th grades, as well as at community colleges and California state universities. The law takes effect at the beginning of the next school year.
The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D), who said in a statement that "having convenient and free access to these products means our period won't prevent us from being productive members of society, and would alleviate the anxiety of trying to find a product when out in public." Periods can come at any time, Garcia said, and it is "time we recognize and respond to the biology of half the population by prioritizing free access to menstrual products, and eliminating all barriers to them."
Garcia decided to sponsor the bill last year after Scotland became the first country in the world to provide universal free menstrual products. The World Health Organization and UNICEF found in 2015 that globally, at least 500 million women and girls do not have access to menstrual products or clean bathroom facilities, potentially leading to urinary tract infections and reproductive issues.