My name is Jocelyn Foye. I am the director of The Womxn Project. The Womxn Project is a statewide organization focused on leveraging the power of art, activism, advocacy and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity.
I am thrilled to submit testimony in support of H.5083, which takes the important step of providing free menstrual products in public schools and prisons. I do not usually talk to legislators about periods and pads, but pushing aside the potential awkwardness this really is an issue of supporting women and families.
A lot of people are facing tough economic times. They aren’t sure how they will manage their family’s needs. They don’t know how they will care for themselves and their families. That makes decisions about how you will spend your money extremely difficult. So imagine being a family who is not sure how to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. It makes it tough for anyone who needs to pay for the pads or tampons they need once a month.
People spend an average of $7-10 per month on menstrual products. It might not sound like a lot of money, but for people who have very little it can make a big difference. And for families of color who already earn much less, the impact is that much greater. People need to buy these products not only for basic hygiene and the dignity of being able to care for yourself, but it is also a matter of being able to stay in school. Some people have to leave class or skip school because they don’t have what they need to manage their menstruation. You can’t just ignore it, so it has a real impact on school attendance and on the ability concentrate and succeed.
The financial barriers for people in prison are also a huge barrier. People who are incarcerated are required to work, but may make pennies per day. Studies have shown that in these facilities two tampons can cost $5.55 and a pair of panty liners could go for $1.35. More than 50% percent of women surveyed in prison said they do not get enough sanitary pads. Some people walk around in stained jumpsuits. Others fashion pads out of socks. Some used their weekly allotment of tissues and stuff them in their underwear. Just because you’re incarcerated doesn’t mean your human dignity should be taken away.
This is really such a simple gesture to close the gap in a need that when left unmet has health implications, financial implications and is just a matter of basic respect. We urge you to vote yes on this important legislation. Thank you.
Contact: Jocelyn Foye, 401-400-0061, [email protected]