Sonoma County Library has expanded its Menstrual Equity Program to all library locations, providing patrons who menstruate with equitable and free access to menstrual hygiene supplies, the same way other restroom supplies like toilet paper and soap are freely available. The move coincides with the world’s first-ever National Period Day on October 19.
“Providing free menstrual supplies in public spaces like our libraries is just the right thing to do,” said Dr. Lisa Ward, Chief Medical Officer for Santa Rosa Community Health (SRCH).
SRCH provides primary care to over 40,000 people with low incomes every year in Santa Rosa, 56% of whom are women, so they are keenly aware of the need.
“Periods are a fact of life. We are all here because women have them! We’re inspired that the Sonoma County Library is taking the lead to make it easier for women, especially those with low incomes, and helping them feel more supported and comfortable by having supplies easily available in every restroom,” Ward said.
In September 2018, Young Adult Services Librarian Rosalie Abbott and the team at Sebastopol Regional Library proposed a pilot program centered on menstrual equity for five of Sonoma County Library’s branches—Central, Healdsburg, Rincon Valley, Sebastopol and Sonoma Valley. The pilot was a success and a decision was made to expand the program to public and staff restrooms at all library locations.
According to freethetampons.org, 86% of people who menstruate have reported that they have started their period in public without the supplies they need. The library is doing their part to alleviate this inconvenience.
The Menstrual Equity Program is made possible by the Measure Y sales tax, the community’s investment in free public libraries.