In July, the Senate Bill 142 was signed into law by New Hampshire Governor, Chris Sununu. Through this bill, New Hampshire school districts are now responsible for providing feminine hygiene products in women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms in high schools and middle schools. From this year on, female students at BHS have free access to sanitary napkins and tampons through the Hospeco Evogen dispensers installed in every girls bathroom throughout the school.
Caroline Dillon, who graduated last spring from Spaulding High School, created the idea for Senate Bill I42. She had done a project in US history class, learning about an overlooked, yet significant global issue: “period poverty,” where women around the world cannot afford feminine hygiene products. They often miss work, school, or other priorities because of this setback during menstruation. According to Nadya Okomato, founder of the non-profit organization and menstrual movement called “Period“, “35 states in the U.S. have a tax on period solutions products because they are considered ‘non-essential goods.’ ” However, most women around the world would consider period solution products as an essential product.
“It was sad to think about. Girls in middle and high school would never dream of telling somebody that they have to miss school or use socks because they can’t pay for pads.” Dillon told The Concord Monitor.
“I would say to them, ‘If this makes you uncomfortable, think about how uncomfortable it is to be in this situation yourself. If you can’t really picture it yourself, think about any woman in your life: your mom, your daughter, your aunt – think about how uncomfortable she feels – you are in the position to make it so these women don’t have to feel that way.’ ”
Dillon, with her idea for building solutions to this issue by requiring schools to provide feminine hygiene products in their bathrooms, approached Senator Martha Hennessy. Hennessey, interested in the idea, decided to sponsor a bill. After NH Governor Chris Sununu signed the bill into NH law, Dillon was named “Granite Stater of the Month” in July by US Senator Maggie Hassan.
Hassan commented on Congressional Record: “I want to thank Caroline once more for her work to help reduce the stigma around periods and to provide essential hygiene products for those in need. I want to congratulate her as well for demonstrating how powerful individual compassion and advocacy can be in our democracy.”
According to The Concord Monitor, Sununu commented upon SB 142 with empowering words: “This legislation is about equality and dignity. SB 142 will help ensure young women in New Hampshire public schools will have the freedom to learn without disruption – and free of shame, or fear of stigma.”
One of the BHS clubs, Women’s Rights Advocacy Club (WRAC), embodies the message that this law represents: women should have rights to these things such as essential feminine hygiene products, pads and tampons. WRAC advocates for women’s equality just as Dillon did within the state.
This initiative to incorporate female hygiene products in the bathrooms at BHS gives women the ability to take their education in to their hands now that period poverty is no longer a restriction. A female at BHS, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the the sensitive personal nature of the topic, comments upon the new changes in the school:
“While I may be able to obtain pads and tampons from the school nurse’s office already, it’s embarrassing to have to go ask for one. Now that they are provided in the bathroom, I can take it into my own hands, and no longer have to be embarrassed. I don’t think it should be an embarrassing thing for girls, but for many girls especially for girls hitting puberty, it can be a scary time. The new bill helps to support and make young girls feel a lot safer and less restricted by the inevitable costs of their body.”
Dillon also expresses, “I think the thing that stuck out to me the most is that you can make an impact and actually do something without being 18, without running for office. You can make your voice heard and you can participate in the process.” While BHS students are a group of students who takes many issues into their own hands such as the 2019 BHS Climate Strike or 2017 BHS student-led gun control walkout, many can also learn and be inspired from Caroline Dillon. Regardless of age, anyone can make a difference, even small-town students like us.