Lawmakers, nonprofits and advocates urge state leaders to improve access to menstrual hygiene products

New York State Senators Hinchey and Webb join United Way of the Greater Capital Region, Women United, and Capital Region Menstrual Health to urge state lawmakers to make menstrual hygiene products more accessible and affordable.

Women United Advocacy Day group photo

Albany, NY  | May 30, 2023 – On Tuesday morning at the New York State Capitol, United Way of the Greater Capital Region (UWGCR) gathered a group of lawmakers, nonprofit partners, and advocates to call attention to the inequities that exist for all women, children, and people who menstruate. UWGCR and its women’s affinity group, Women United, were joined by Capital Region Menstrual Health and New York State Senators Michelle Hinchey and Lea Webb, who chairs the Senate’s Women’s Issues Committee. 

“Period poverty impacts women and girls across our state in great numbers,” said Senator Lea Webb. “Period supplies are necessities and should not present a barrier for women and girls to learn, work, or fully participate in their lives. It is critical that we end period stigmatization and ensure that period supplies are accessible for all New Yorkers. This is about equity and ending the financial burden that comes with period poverty.”

The press conference was held two days after World Menstrual Hygiene Day on Sunday, May 28. On Tuesday, May 23, Senators Hinchey and Webb introduced a resolution on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, which will call attention to the importance of raising awareness about menstrual hygiene and improving the accessibility and affordability of products and care.

“Access to menstrual products is a fundamental health necessity, and yet, in almost every community across New York State, there are people who cannot afford them,” Senator Michelle Hinchey said. “I’m proud to champion several bills to help expand access to period products, including legislation making menstrual products available for free in all SUNY and CUNY bathrooms and in our Upstate shelters. I thank our partners at United Way of the Greater Capital Region for dedicating their advocacy day to raising awareness of period poverty in New York and supporting solutions that will help under-resourced communities.”

According to the Alliance for Period Supplies, 40% of people in the United States struggle to afford the price of menstrual hygiene products. 25% of American teens report missing class and 33% of adults say they’ve had to miss work, school, or similar commitments due to a lack of access to period supplies. Menstrual hygiene products are considered ineligible expenses under Medicaid, WIC, and the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“United Way of the Greater Capital Region is committed to doing its part to improve access to the information, products, and health services needed to effectively manage menstruation,” said United Way of the Greater Capital Region President and CEO, Peter Gannon. “We believe this is essential to promoting healthier outcomes for all women, children, and people who menstruate, enabling greater participation in educational, social, political, and economic opportunities.”

As the women’s affinity group for UWGCR, Women United invests in and advocates for the success of all women and children in the Capital Region. The group’s Premiere Partner in 2023 is Capital Region Menstrual Health (CRMH), which promotes the health and well-being of menstruating individuals.

Over the past six months, Women United volunteers have helped CRMH install additional Period Product Pantries throughout the Capital Region, which help deliver free menstruation products to under-resourced communities. The two organizations have also met with the leaders of several local school districts in hopes of better understanding the needs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and how they can work together to better meet the needs of students. 

“We are here today to stand with menstruators everywhere,” Capital Region Menstrual Health said. “Menstrual equity is a public health and human rights issue that has been overlooked for far too long. It is time for everyone to have safe and affordable access to menstrual products and adequate menstruation education. We can end the stigma that surrounds menstruation together.”