Menstrual equity bill signed into law so students can receive free products
With students, teachers and advocate groups, Gov. David Ige signed SB 2821 SD2 HD1 CD1 into law Monday, according to a press release.
The measure requires the state Department of Education to provide menstrual products free of charge to all students on all public-school campuses.
Hawai’i is the sixth state in the country to require that schools provide the products free of charge to all students. This law goes into effect on July 1.
Nikki-Ann Yee, co-founder of the Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi, has been a leader in the fight for menstrual equity in Hawaiʻi. She said her organization has helped address the issue of “period poverty.”
“As Native Hawaiian women born and raised in Waimanalo, my sisters and I started the Maʻi Movement because there was no organization in Hawaiʻi dedicated to addressing the issue of period poverty,” Yee said in the release. “With the support of our legislators, educators, and community members, we’re now able to provide students in our schools, no matter their socio-economic background, with the support they need.”
Menstrual equity was a priority this legislative session.
“In my Opening Day remarks, I shared that I was surprised to learn that families were sometimes forced to choose between buying food and menstrual products,” said Sen. President Ronald D. Kouchi (District 8 – Kauaʻi and Niʻihau) said in the release. “This is not a choice that our community members should ever have to make. I am thrilled that Governor Ige signed this bill into law and that our menstruating students will now have access to the products they need at school.”
Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani (District 18 -Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia) introduced SB 2821 and worked closely with advocates as it moved through the session.
“This is an important step as we work hard to continue to improve the quality of life for our students,” Sen. Vice President Kidani said in the release. “I want to extend a sincere mahalo to the advocates who championed this bill, especially Ilima Intermediate teacher Sara “Mili” Milianta-Laffin, her students, and Nikki-Ann Yee of Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi. They have fought for this legislation for three years, and I am so pleased that this bill came to fruition this year.”