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By Tammye McDuff
Yes, you read that correctly. California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is still fighting to make women’s feminine products more affordable and accessible. Saturday, February 4th Garcia held a menstrual product drive at her offices in Downey, Ca.
“Every year, the California state legislature forces women to pay over $20 million in taxes for being born with a normally functioning uterus”, says Garcia, “Tampons and pads are necessary sanitation supplies a woman on her period needs in order to go to work, go to the grocery store, exercise, pick up her kids from school, and not ruin her clothes. Any woman will tell you that periods are not comfortable.”
In an article Garcia wrote for Cosmopolitan she says:
“Menstrual cycles are not voluntary. Periods are a normal monthly function of a woman’s body, invited or not. They are not a choice. However, biological inevitability does not seem to prevent our male governor from placing a price on women’s health. The state of California continues to place an unfair burden upon women and girls by maintaining the ‘luxury tax’ on menstrual products. What is particularly odd about this decision is several male-specific items that are far from medically necessary are exempted from that same tax.”
The average woman has 468 periods over her lifetime and a single box of tampons costs $7 at common retailers. This is not insignificant to women, especially poor women on a tight budget who struggle to pay for basic necessities like a box of tampons or pads every month for their adult life. The financial implications of this are astounding.
In order to stay healthy and stain-free, a woman will spend $15,000 to $20,000 on her period in her lifetime. For many low-income women, that is an entire year’s salary. This is a significant price for half of California’s population to pay to manage their health and well-being. Women in California pay $20.2 million annually on sales taxes for tampons and sanitary napkins.
“I’ll be the first to admit that menstruation is not an easy topic to discuss in the public realm,” says Garcia, “In the whole of human history, it’s only fairly recently that women can even exist in public while on their periods.” She goes on to state, “I want to make this absolutely clear, female students miss school because they cannot afford to purchase menstrual products. This is not just an issue of stigma; this is an issue about equal access to education for female students. It is essential that lawmakers ensure there are no barriers between a girl and her ability to get a quality education and then enter the workforce as a productive citizen.”
In shelters, too many women cannot afford to purchase menstrual products, and periods often prevent those women from pursuing jobs and other opportunities. Each month a homeless woman will have to choose between saving money for a meal or saving money for a box of tampons.
On a mission to bring this taboo subject into the light of the public, and Sacramento, Garcia’s ‘Tampon Drive’ received accolades from the Law Offices of George B. Pacheco & Associates for hosting their own #tampondrive! Items collected will be donated to local shelters and organizations within the 58th Assembly District.