In bid to aid homeless women, New York passes bill requiring shelters to provide tampons

I'll be 100 percent honest: Until this week, this issue never even crossed my mind. It never dawned on me that homeless women face the same monthly period as every other woman in the world. In the following story, Kailah Willcuts gives her testimony on how being on her "time of the month" only exacerbated the everyday struggles of homelessness. Her words moved me. She opened my eyes to a widespread issue facing millions of American women; an issue that isn't discussed enough.

Now, we need to work together to support these homeless women. We need local, state and federal law to recognize the risks and shame that homeless women face and to take measurable steps to aid their health. Stand with me and stand up for them.

-Victoria Mendoza - For the 50,000 homeless women living in the U.S., having their period is more than an inconvenience. Lacking access to sanitary pads or even a place to shower, homeless women are often forced to improvise by using socks, paper towels, plastic bags, or even their limited clothing items.

“Not only is it terrible, but it’s also embarrassing,” admitted Kailah Willcuts, 27, who said she had been homeless for more than eight years. “Not to mention that now you have this stain on your pants. I only have the clothes that I’m wearing, so I’m standing there half naked, bloodied, you know, washing my clothes out.”

As far as dealing with her period goes, things might be getting easier for Willcuts. New York City, where Willcuts currently resides, recently became the first city in the country to require public schools, jails, and homeless shelters to provide free pads and tampons.

“You shouldn’t have to decide between a pad and having lunch,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who helped champion the legislation. “It’s about dignity and women understanding that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this process. Once we take the taboo away from this product, then we are really empowering women.”

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