When the bill was drafted, Ms. Lennon and the bill’s other writers said they kept in mind challenges to menstruation for those experiencing poverty, homelessness, abusive relationships and health conditions.
The coronavirus pandemic only compounded those issues, according to a 2020 study by the nonprofit Plan International U.K. The group found that almost a third of girls and women age 14 to 21 had problems that year with either being able to afford or gain access to sanitary products during the first national lockdown.
In the United States, a 2021 study by George Mason University showed that 14 percent of women attending college experienced period poverty in 2020. The study found that Latina and Black women were disproportionately affected.
Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws that require free access to period products for students, according to Alliance for Period Supplies, an advocacy group. A broader push to repeal state sales taxes applied to menstrual products like pads and cups, often called the tampon tax, has proceeded in fits and starts. Those in favor of repealing the tax argue that necessities like tampons and pads should be tax-exempt, while others argue that states need the revenue. At least 32 states have introduced measures to eliminate the tax and 13 have so far succeeded.