In honor of Women’s History Month, a group of juniors (myself, Lilou Redon, Ariana Dideban, Grace Freedson, Gaelle Elalam, Christina Alam, and India Schilling) held New West’s first ever Women’s Drive. We collected feminine hygiene products to be donated to the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) in Los Angeles. Since 1978, the DWC has been dedicated to addressing the needs of women facing poverty and homelessness in Skid Row. We were able to fill a 32-gallon bin with over 1,000 pads and tampons for women who are homeless and unable to afford such supplies.
Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury, but many homeless or impoverished women are unable to afford these goods. Although purchasing a seven dollar box of tampons every month may not seem outrageously expensive, it is a significant expense for women living below the poverty level with an annual income of $12,000. Pads and tampons are made more unaffordable by what has been coined the “tampon tax”. In the majority of U.S. states, a general sales tax–which can reach up to 10%–is applied to feminine hygiene products because they are not widely considered a medical necessity. Lawmakers in states such as California, Utah, and Wisconsin have been advocating for the removal of this gender-biased tax because it places an additional financial burden on women for products that are classified by the FDA as medical devices. The United Nations has also declared the importance of ensuring access to necessary hygiene products for women living in poverty.
Pads and tampons are necessities for women. Without them, it is difficult for women to work, go to school, or go about their daily lives while menstruating. Removing the tampon tax is an important step in making feminine hygiene products more affordable for all women, and donating to organizations such as the DWC makes such products accessible for those in need.
Want to help? Donate to the Downtown Women’s Center here.