Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – House Representative Rachele F. Lamosao is recognized as a National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) contest winner for her tenacious efforts to combat period poverty in Hawaiʻi. Through this award, she will collaborate with Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi to distribute $1,000 worth of period products to support girls and women, trans, gender non-conforming, and people who menstruate in public spaces.
"We are truly grateful that period products are finally free in all of Hawaiʻi's K-12 public and charter schools, due to a law that was passed last year. My ongoing goal is to expand access in other public-serving areas including state libraries and courthouses as they serve some of our most vulnerable populations," said Representative Lamosao (D-36 Waipahū).
Through coordinated efforts with the Hawaiʻi State Librarian, Representative Lamosao announces that the donated period products will be distributed to libraries across the state.
“Hawaiʻi’s public libraries enthusiastically embrace this effort to support the health and well-being of our communities,” said State Librarian Stacey A. Aldrich.
Menstrual equity advocates commonly refer to a 2021 report conducted by Hawaiʻi State Commission on the Status of Women and Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi which revealed that the exceptionally high cost of living and the significant wage gap for women exacerbate period poverty in the state of Hawaiʻi.
"90% of respondents believed menstrual products were expensive and nearly 30% of respondents reported that they or someone in their household experienced difficulty obtaining menstrual products," said Rep. Lamosao. "This is why it is important for us to normalize the discussion of making these products accessible for people in public places."
"Period products are a basic need like toilet paper and soap, but it's a basic need that keeps people from going to school, from going to work, and from living full and productive lives," said Nikki-Ann Yee, Co-Founder of Maʻi Movement. "This effort brings Hawaiʻi one step closer to addressing menstrual equity and making our public facilities accessible to everyone that visits."
As a first-term state legislator, Rep. Lamosao is passionately advocating for public access to menstruation products. In the 2023 legislative session, she introduced new legislation (HB 931) asking the Department of Accounting and General Services to provide menstrual products at no cost in specific restrooms of all public buildings maintained by their department.
"Although the measure died during session, I introduced a single chamber (HR133 HD1) and concurrent resolution (HCR 132) which both carry the same intent, to keep the conversation going. These are our first steps toward addressing period poverty and menstrual equity through an entire governmental approach," said Rep. Lamosao. "We look forward to revisiting the bill next session."
To learn more about the NWFL Ending Period Poverty Initiative, visit http://www.womenlegislators.org/ending-period-poverty-with-nfwl-contest-2023/.