This Woman Wants To Make Periods Easier For Teen Girls

It's the subject of a million magazine horror stories: You get your period, but you have no tampons or pads. At best, the process of getting one from a friend or school nurse is still fraught with social anxiety. At worst, a teenage period mishap can be downright traumatic. Finally, one wonderful lawmaker in Wisconsin has introduced a bill that would provide free tampons and pads in schools and in state buildings.

State Rep. Melissa Sargent introduced the measure last week. "Just like toilet paper and soap and paper towels are in every bathroom, I very much believe that feminine hygiene products should also be available," she told local TV station WAOW. While the proposal doesn't have a cost attached to it yet, it does call attention to the lack of available resources for girls in America.

"Women tend to be supportive [of a measure like this], and men who never have been put in the situation obviously biologically of having to need a feminine hygiene product don't understand what that shock, embarrassment...what that feeling is like," she said.

Although supplying women and girls with period products is framed mostly as a question of fairness in the U.S., it's a human rights issue that has dramatic implications around the world. Because of cultural stigmas and a lack of access to pads, millions of school-age girls miss out on education when they have their period. Women have also recently protested in the U.S. and around the world over the fact that sanitary products are taxed.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin is one of dozens of states that has sharply curtailed access to reproductive rights, and its legislature debated banning fetal-tissue research earlier this year in the wake of videos released by anti-abortion activists. So, Sargent's bill is unlikely to pass because of the bitter political divide that exists in the state. It's a terrible reality that there are legislators — many of them men — who would actually vote against making life a little bit easier for teenage girls.
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