Santa Clara County takes stand for menstrual equity, makes feminine products free

ILLUSTRATION - 29 November 2020, Berlin: Sanitary towels and a basket of tampons stand on a shelf while a woman stands at the sink. Photo: Annette Riedl/dpa (Photo by Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Santa Clara County supervisors took a stand for menstrual equity Tuesday by unanimously approving a plan to stock restrooms in all county facilities with free period products.

The plan covers public access and employee bathrooms of all genders at county facilities, "just as there are free paper towels and toilet paper," the office of Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a news release. "Menstrual equity is equal access to hygiene products. Hygiene products, including menstrual products are a necessity."

Much like soap and toilet paper, "if we did not have those readily and freely available we would be facing serious health consequences," said Chavez, who proposed the plan. "There shouldn't be any shame or stigma attached to menstruating or period products. It's a natural bodily function."

Supervisors in December had approved $1 million to provide period products to disadvantaged communities during the pandemic after more than 63,000 people were identified as experiencing "period poverty," referring to people who cannot afford period products and other necessities.

The board on Tuesday also voted to support menstrual equity legislation by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, D-Downey, that would provide free access to menstrual products in public schools, community colleges, state college campuses and state and local municipal buildings.