Illinois was one of the first states to join the menstrual movement, and now they are a leader in expanding the menstrual movement.
August 4, 2021, Governor J.B Pritzker signed into law a bill addressing period poverty.
The bill stipulates that ‘feminine hygiene products are to be free at public universities and colleges, state-run homeless shelters, and that the Illinois Department of Human Services moves towards covering those products for women utilizing SNAP and WIC benefits.’
Prior to the requirement, Illinois State University committed to offering Aunt Flow’s free-vend menstrual system on campus in June 2021. The initiative was spear-headed by the campus Student Government and supported by administration.
This bill acts as an extension to legislation passed in 2017 – House Bill 3215. This Public Act recognizes the necessary nature of menstrual products, citing that if students do not have access to menstrual care, they may miss class. The requirement declares that schools in the state of Illinois, grades 6-12, must make menstrual products freely available to students in the bathroom.
Initially, there was concerns around ‘theft’ of product if free menstrual products were offered in bathrooms. Traditionally, tampons and pads were offered in the ‘nurses office.’ It became clear that offering products in the nurses office simply didn’t suffice – Imagine running to the nurse to get toilet paper every time you pooped?