SPOKANE, Wash. — New and renovated Spokane Public Libraries will have free menstrual hygienic products at each of their libraries' restrooms locations, according to a press release.
A public library spokesperson said they joined a national movement and partnered with Aunt Flow, a woman-owned company, to provide 100% organic cotton tampons and pads in dispensers available to any individual that needs them.
“We believe providing free menstrual hygiene supplies will alleviate stress for individuals experiencing period poverty and a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products,” Director of Marketing and Communications Amanda Donovan said. “This initiative supports our mission to increase equity and inclusivity in the region and eliminates a barrier that many individuals experience daily."
The press release cites UNICEF, who estimates 1.8 billion girls, women and non-binary persons menstruate but millions across the world "cannot manage their monthly cycle in a dignified, healthy way." They say this results in negative impacts on their lives like restricting mobility, freedom and choices; reducing participation in school, work and community life; compromising safety; and causing stress and anxiety.
Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1273 in May 2021 outlining that menstrual hygiene products must be supplied in all gender-neutral and female school restrooms by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. The bill also applies to colleges and universities.
The bill was introduced in January 2021 and was passed by both the House and Senate in April.
In 2020, the Legislature passed another bill that exempts menstrual products from the state’s sales tax. Washington is currently among 31 states that still tax menstrual products, according to Period Equity, a nonprofit group that is campaigning to end the so-called “tampon tax” in states.