Essential does not equate to optional: The I AM Bill is vital for menstrual equity in Massachusetts 

Aaron Halls
Aaron REPP

On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, the Massachusetts Senate passed the I AM Bill, bringing the state closer to menstrual equity for its residents. An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products (S.1381 and H.534), would make disposable menstrual products such as sanitary napkins, tampons, and underwear liners available to menstruating individuals in public schools, homeless shelters, and prisons in Massachusetts for free. With the Massachusetts Senate passing the bill unanimously, the bill now must be voted upon by the House of Representatives to continue forward.  

“YW Boston Advocacy Committee takes on bills as a priority that work to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The I AM bill does just that. Menstruation is a healthy process of the body and should NOT be a means to control, shame, or leave anyone without basic access to health needs.

Promoting dignity and equity for all who menstruate is a crucial part of empowering those with historically marginalized genders. Those who menstruate, including women and women of color, routinely face stigma and judgement, the passage of this bill by the Massachusetts senate is a small step towards righting a lot of reproductive wrongs. We are proud to take on this issue and support all those who can benefit from equal access.” 

Brianna Aloisio Savage, Associate Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement, on behalf of the YW Boston Advocacy Committee 

Disposable menstrual products are essential items for menstruating individuals. Essential does not equate to optional. According to the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition, “Approximately 1 out of 7 children in Massachusetts is living in poverty and struggles to pay for menstrual products.” Not having access to menstrual products has been shown to negatively impact an individual’s school attendance. These products must be made freely and easily available to menstruators without stigma and not just to those with the privilege to obtain them.  

A few weeks ago, on October 5, 2023, the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition organized a Rally to End Period Poverty outside the Massachusetts State House. Over 75 activists showed up to use their collective voice to urge the passing of the I AM Bill. Senator Julian Cyr, Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee; Senator Patricia D. Jehlen, Lead Sponsor of the I AM Bill; and Leslie Credle, Founder of Justice for Housing all spoke at the rally. Through powerful speeches and personal stories, each helped emphasize how the I AM bill would bring menstrual equity to the state.  

“For some individuals facing cultural stigmas, public restrooms, schools, and other federal and public buildings may be the only means of accessing [menstrual] products.”

Nesreen Ourdyl, Center for Support Immigrant Organizing (CSIO) 

It is of the utmost importance that menstruating individuals have free and easy access to disposable menstrual products without facing societal strain, stigma, or financial burden. It’s important for non-menstruators to contribute their voice to make menstrual equity a reality for Massachusetts. There are different ways to take action: 

About YW Boston’s Advocacy work: 

YW Boston works to eliminate racism and empower women through DEI services and advocacy. Our advocacy work is included under our 501(c)3, which means we do not endorse candidates, and we are non-partisan in the policies that we take on. Our advocacy work is planned and executed by a dedicated group of volunteers who apply and serve on our YW Boston Advocacy Committee.