FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2022
Contact: Genevieve Hulick | firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. – Today, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto introduced the Period Equity Righting an Injustice of District Residents Act of 2022 (“PERIOD Act”). As introduced, this legislation requires the provision of free period products in all District government buildings, from libraries to recreation centers, and buildings that serve the District’s most historically underserved residents, including shelters and congregate care facilities. This legislation was co-introduced by Councilmembers Janeese Lewis George, Trayon White, Sr., Charles Allen, Robert C. White, Jr., Christina Henderson, Vincent C. Gray, Elissa Silverman, Anita Bonds, Brianne K. Nadeau, Mary M. Cheh, and Kenyan R. McDuffie. The bill builds on legislation introduced by Councilmember Pinto and passed and funded by the Council to provide period products and expand menstrual education in District of Columbia schools.
“Accessing period products should be as ubiquitous as toilet paper in public facilities,” said Councilmember Pinto. “Our public places support the everyday lives of the residents of DC, and by taking this action, we can take a fundamental step forward for gender equality. The PERIOD Act is a critical opportunity to demonstrate to all those who live in and visit the nation’s capital that access to period products is a fundamental human right.”
Period poverty is often discussed as a challenge for women in developing countries, but research has shown that millions of women, transgender men, and nonbinary people in the United States face similar burdens. While there is a lack of research on the impacts of period poverty on residents in Washington, DC, experts have found that period poverty is closely aligned with food insecurity, which would indicate that more than 11 percent of District residents who menstruate experience period poverty. The DC Council Office on Racial Equity has noted, “The lack of timely and readily available access to free period products can create a web of negative outcomes that affect mental and physical health; and social and economic wellbeing many of which, disproportionately affect women of color and women of color with low incomes.”
The inability to access period products can create serious health consequences. Women, transgender men, and non-binary people who lack access to menstrual products are more likely to reuse products or use products for too long, which puts those individuals at higher risk for infection and other conditions that require medical care. This bill would reduce these risks for District residents and visitors by providing free period products in public buildings and facilities serving vulnerable populations.
“Women, transgender men, and nonbinary people need access to free menstrual products – a health necessity each month. We have seen the associated costs and burdens of accessing these products fall disproportionately on people of color and lower income families,” said Councilmember Pinto. “By requiring that period products be available in government buildings, shelters, and congregate care facilities, the District can help to ensure the health and dignity of our residents.”
In all, the “PERIOD Act” would:
Earlier this year, the DC Council unanimously passed the “Expanding Student Access to Period Products Act of 2021” introduced by Councilmember Pinto. This legislation requires the provision of free period products in District public, public charter, and private schools and post-secondary institutions. This legislation also requires that the District of Columbia’s State Office of the Superintendent of Schools (OSSE) develop and implement comprehensive menstrual health education standards for our students. Councilmember Pinto helped secure funding for this legislation in the FY22 Budget so that it can be implemented this fiscal year. In analyzing the “Expanding Student Access to Period Products Act of 2021,” the DC Council Office of Racial Equity suggested considering ways to ensure District residents experiencing housing instability or live in shelters have access to free period products. The PERIOD Act aims to address this.
“This bill is another step towards overcoming the stigma surrounding menstruation and treating period products the same as toilet paper – a product everyone agrees is a basic necessity and can be readily found in public buildings and places,” said Councilmember Pinto. “The District has the opportunity to be a national leader on period equity and look forward to getting this bill passed and implemented.”