New York City Just Made Free Tampons and Pads Available in Prisons, Schools, and Shelters

Pads and tampons just became a lot more accessible in New York City. Thanks to the work of city councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, pads and tampons will be available free of charge in public schools, homeless shelters, and prisons — as long as Mayor Bill DeBlasio follows through on his promise to sign the bill into law, of course.

Ferreras-Copeland's work began last year when she introduced a dispenser providing free tampons and pads at a local high school in Queens. Students and teachers praised her efforts, so Ferreras-Copeland decided to expand them. Her new legislation — a bill passed unanimously by the city council — makes periods a priority, deeming pads and tampons as necessary as toilet paper.

What's better? This bill is designed to target girls and women who might not otherwise have easy, affordable access to these products — like low-income students, homeless women, and women in prison. "A young girl should not have to tell her teacher, to then tell her counselor, to then be sent to the nurse's office, to then be given a pad, to then go back to the bathroom while a boy is already taking his exam in his classroom," Ferreras-Copeland said — establishing something she's termed "menstrual equity."

"This package is remarkable," the councilwoman said. "It is the only one of its kind, and it says periods are powerful. Menstrual hygiene products are as necessary as toilet paper — and no one is freaking out about toilet paper." And not only is it "remarkable," it's the first of its kind in any U.S. city — setting an encouraging precedent for legislation to come.

More From SELF:
• These Women Are Fighting to End the 'Tampon Tax' in New York
• New York City Will Offer Free Tampons and Pads to Students in Select Public Schools
• This Video Shows Just What It Costs to Be a Woman

• 3 Tips for Being a Fantastic Boss

Photo Credit: matka_Wariatka via Getty Images