Free Menstrual Products Now Available at Cleveland Rec Centers, City Hall

“Toilet paper and other sanitary products are universally expected, while feminine hygiene products" are not

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click to enlarge Free Menstrual Products Now Available at Cleveland Rec Centers, City Hall
Cleveland City Hall, Erik Drost/FlickrCC

Free menstrual products are now available in bathrooms in City Hall and neighborhood resource and recreation centers across Cleveland following the passage of legislation initially introduced by Councilwoman Jasmin Santana in 2021.

“With the recent assault on women’s rights at the federal level, I know we must do more at the local level to support women,” said Santana in a statement. “Now that we have free feminine hygiene products in the buildings our community visits most frequently, I can say I’m proud to have inspired change. This is just one step in Council’s work for Clevelanders.”

An estimated 40% of menstruating people in the U.S. struggle to purchase menstrual products due to lack of income, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies. Additionally, a survey found that 84% of menstruating teenagers in the U.S. have either missed class time or know someone who has because of lack of access to period products.

“Toilet paper and other sanitary products are universally expected, while feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads are rarely provided despite being medically necessary,” the ordinance says.

Cleveland is not alone. In September, Hamilton County announced its installation of 70 free menstrual product dispensers in public county buildings.

"We know that period poverty is real. When there is access to free period products, students stay in class longer and workers are more productive," said Denise Driehaus, founder of Hamilton County’s Commission on Women and Girls. "We need to go beyond the stigma and see period products for what they are – a basic necessity."

The legislation also encouraged public entities and businesses to offer no-cost menstrual products in restrooms, noting that the lifetime cost of menstruation is estimated to be more than $6,000.

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