Senator M. TERESA RUIZ
District 29 (Essex)
Senator NELLIE POU
District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)
Establishes the last full week of May as “Period Poverty Awareness Week.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Joint Resolution designating the last full week of May of each year as “Period Poverty Awareness Week” in New Jersey.
Whereas, “Period Poverty” is defined as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products and education, clean toilets, and handwashing facilities; and
Whereas, The average menstruator spends approximately $9 per month, or $1,964 over the course of a lifetime, on menstrual hygiene products; and
Whereas, As of 2021, 30 states impose a “tampon tax,” or a sales tax on menstrual hygiene products, making these essential health products even more difficult for low-income menstruators to afford; and
Whereas, Ten percent of New Jersey women live in poverty, according to data compiled by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity; and
Whereas, In 2020, 66 percent of low-income menstruators surveyed in St. Louis, MO reported being unable to afford menstrual hygiene products at some point during the previous year, while 20 percent of these respondents faced this problem on a monthly basis; and
Whereas, One in five low-income menstruators reports missing school, work, or events because they lack access to menstrual hygiene products; and
Whereas, Federal statute and regulations prohibit safety-net programs for low-income individuals, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), from providing enrollees with free menstrual hygiene products; and
Whereas, Food banks often lack a reliable supply of menstrual hygiene products for clientele because many donors are unaware that federal safety-net programs do not cover these essential health items; and
Whereas, Homeless persons, incarcerated individuals, and transgender individuals are disproportionately impacted by period poverty, since they lack the means or opportunity to access menstrual hygiene products easily, if at all; and
Whereas, A recent study by researchers at George Mason University found that women who experienced period poverty at some point in the past year were more likely to report moderate or severe depression than women who did not experience period poverty; and
Whereas, Lack of access to free or low-cost menstrual hygiene products forces many low-income individuals to choose between purchasing food or these essential health products; and
Whereas, Some menstruators, unable to access menstrual hygiene products, extend the length of time that they use a tampon or a pad, or re-use soiled pads, risking infection or even toxic shock syndrome; and
Whereas, Other menstruators who lack access to menstrual hygiene products are forced to use potentially unhygienic alternatives, such as diapers, rags, newspapers, or socks; and
Whereas, Legislation introduced by United States Representative Gracie Meng (D-NY) that would ensure expanded access to free menstrual hygiene products for certain vulnerable populations failed to advance in the 116th session of the United States Congress; and
Whereas, Period poverty hinders the academic, economic, employment, and social advancement of too many New Jersey residents who menstruate; and
Whereas, Awareness of, and accurate information about, the complex issue of period poverty is a critical tool to ensuring menstrual equity for all of New Jersey’s menstruators; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The last full week in May of each year is designated as “Period Poverty Awareness Week” in the State of New Jersey to promote an awareness of, and public actions to address, period poverty.
2. The Governor is
requested to annually issue a proclamation calling upon public officials and
citizens of this State to observe “Period Poverty Awareness Week” with
appropriate activities and programs.
3. This joint resolution shall take effect immediately.
This joint resolution designates the last full week of May of each year as “Period Poverty Awareness Week” in order to promote awareness of, and public actions to address, period poverty. Period poverty is defined as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products and education, clean toilets, and handwashing facilities. Access to menstrual hygiene products, such as tampons or sanitary pads, is particularly difficult for homeless individuals, incarcerated menstruators, and transgendered persons. Moreover, low-income menstruators frequently have difficulty affording the cost of menstrual hygiene products, since federal safety-net programs, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), do not cover these essential health products. Too often, menstruators are forced to miss school, work, or important events because they lack access to, or cannot afford to buy, the products needed to manage menstrual periods. It is the intent of the bill’s sponsor to promote public awareness of period poverty so that New Jersey’s menstruators no longer have to choose between purchasing food or menstrual hygiene products.