New York City took a big step forward last week in recognizing that being female is not a disease. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of legislation requiring that feminine hygiene products be made available to girls and women in public schools, shelters and jails.

“There should be no stigma around something as fundamental as menstruation,” de Blasio said. “These laws recognize that feminine hygiene products are a necessity – not a luxury.”

One of the three bills the mayor signed mandates that the Department of Education to make tampons and pads available at no cost to students in the bathrooms of school buildings where there are female students in sixth grade or above.

Although New York is not the first school district to provide free feminine hygiene products, as the largest school system in the country it makes a significant statement.

“For too long, we’ve kept silent about menstrual periods, and that silence has hurt our young people,” First Lady Chirlane McCray said. “No young person should miss class or be embarrassed at school because she needs a tampon or pad.”

The schools will also hold parent workshops and student information sessions about feminine hygiene products during the school year.

Two other bills require that feminine hygiene products be made available to women who are in shelters or incarcerated.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of the sponsors, said, “These hygiene products should never be considered a luxury for women, but rather an essential part of women’s health.”

We couldn’t agree more.

As Gloria Steinem put it, “At last, a recognition that reproducing the human race is a necessity and not a taxable luxury!”

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