When Eiko La Boria distributed free menstrual hygiene items in Jersey City as part of her community advocacy for the Thrive Coalition, a homeless woman was so grateful that La Boria found herself asking how the woman was managing her period without these products.
“She said, ‘I choose a corner and I sit here until it passes,'” La Boria said.
La Boria recounted the exchange before the Assembly’s Women and Children’s Committee, which met on Thursday to consider a series of bills intended to reduce menstrual poverty and improve menstrual health. After 90 minutes of testimony, the committee agreed to move each bill forward.
“This package of bills is about the dignity and dignity of women,” said Congresswoman Lisa Swain (D-Bergen), who has sponsored several bills. “It’s been too long since women have had to sit in the corner.”
Several of the bills aim to reduce the cost of sanitary napkins, tampons and other periodic products by:
- Require homeless shelters to provide free period products.
- Allocate $200,000 for food pantries to purchase menstrual hygiene products for low-income residents.
- Require public assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children to include menstrual products among the benefits covered.
- Urge Congress will provide periodic products under Medicaid, SNAP and WIC.
- Establish requirements for the state to buy bulk menstrual products.
MP Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester), chair of the committee, marveled – and celebrated – that menstruation was the panel’s only program of the day.
“In the history of the state, I think this is the first time we’ve had an open discussion about menstrual products. I mean, honestly!” she said. even cross the minds of lawmakers here in the state of New Jersey?”
MP Shanique Speight (D-Essex), who has sponsored several bills, agreed: “I’m just glad we can sit here and have this conversation and normalize it.”
Lawmakers and the public who testified on behalf of the bills agreed that menstrual hygiene products are essential necessities whose cost should not keep them out of reach of those who need them.
“It’s basic. It should be like toilet paper and paper towels,” said Rep. Angela McKnight (D-Hudson).
The only Republican members of the committee worried that a bill requiring the inclusion of a list of ingredients on the packaging of vintage products could drive up prices if manufacturers had to produce packaging only for New York customers. Jersey.
But Swain, a sponsor of the bill, said the measure was needed “so people who are on their period know exactly what they are putting into their bodies, just like food labels”.
Committee members also agreed to merge another invoice this would have required a toxic shock syndrome warning on the packaging of tampons in the bill ingredients, as federal authorities already require such a warning. Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening but treatable condition that is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and commonly affects menstruating people, especially those who use super absorbent tampons.
The Assembly’s Education Committee has also proposed a invoice On Thursday, it would require schools to teach students in grades 4 to 12 about toxic shock syndrome. Called “Madalyn’s Law”, it would also require signs in public restrooms about the causes, warning signs and dangers of the syndrome.
The bill is named after Madalyn Massabni, a 2016 graduate of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School who died of toxic shock syndrome in 2017.
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