LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Third District, on the implementation of a pilot program providing hygiene products at select County facilities.
In recent years, there has been an overdue recognition that hygiene products are costly, and that cost is disproportionately felt by women. Period poverty, defined as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, has a disparate impact and creates an additional financial burden for those who menstruate. This includes a lack of access to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste products.
“Nearly half of women have experienced period poverty, lacking access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, and necessary facilities. At the same time, the cost of diapers has also increased in recent months. Fortunately, thanks to the leadership of the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom, there is no sales tax for children’s diapers and feminine hygiene products for the next two years,” said Supervisor Solis. “LA County should use this opportunity to address this structural inequity by providing free feminine hygiene products and diapers at certain facilities where parents and children frequent. As LA County opens its facilities to the public following the recent COVID-19 surge, it is an opportune time to move this forward.”
In a 2021 national survey of menstruating teens, 1 in 4 reported struggling to afford period products, up from 1 in 5 in 2019. A further 4 in 5 either missed or knew someone who missed class time because they did not have access to period products. According to recent studies, the average woman spends $13.25 per month on period products. The need for diapers can create similar hardships. Diaper manufacturers cited the increase in the price of raw materials, shipping costs, and the need to offset inflation as reasons for this increase. Even before this, low-income families were spending approximately $1,000 a year on diapers, or around 14% of their after-tax income.
“Just as we provide toilet paper and soap in public restrooms, we should also provide feminine hygiene products and diapers, so that women’s basic health needs, and the needs of their infants, can be met in our county restrooms,” said LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, co-author of the motion.
The motion approved today directs the County’s Chief Executive Office, partnering with the Library, Department of Parks & Recreation, Department of Public Social Services, cultural venues and museums, and relevant stakeholders, to report back in 60 days on the implementation of a pilot program providing feminine hygiene products, diapers, and other personal care items at select County venues operated by the above-referenced departments and others, including the identification of funding and a County department to administer a one-year pilot program, with a future plan for expansion if determined successful (through analysis of data collected) and ongoing funding can be identified. Additionally, the motion directs the County’s Chief Executive Office to support federal and state legislation reducing the cost of feminine products and diapers, providing additional federal and state funding to cover the cost of providing these free products to low-income residents, and/ or that would allow government benefits to cover the cost of feminine hygiene products and diapers.
To view the full motion, click here.