Somerville company rolls out menstrual pads… on a roll
“It’s kind of a vestige of a past era that women are expected to bring their own period products with them.”
A local company is rolling out a new product aimed at improving accessibility and equity for period supplies: Pads On A Roll.
The unique pads, from Somerville-based Egal, function similar to a roll of toilet paper, giving people who menstruate a free option for period supplies within the privacy of a bathroom stall.
Company CEO Penelope Finnie said “egal” means “equal” and that the goal of the product is to provide an equitable product for people who menstruate.
“We really feel that all bodily functions should be treated equally,” she said. “It’s kind of a vestige of a past era that women are expected to bring their own period products with them.”
Tom Devlin, the company’s founder and chief technology officer, said he came up with the idea for Pads On A Roll after reading an article his wife Stephanie Ebbert, a reporter at The Boston Globe, wrote in which advocates argued pads should be as common as toilet paper.
“A light went off in my head because I just knew how to do that,” he said. “Basically, why not just make them like toilet paper?”
Now, the product is ready to launch, and some have already started using it. In Cambridge Public Schools, Pads On A Roll are installed in five administrative bathrooms.
Vedad Konjic, director of facilities for CPS, said he plans to get feedback from users before implementing the Egal product across district restrooms.
“I think it’s a great idea because there’s really nothing on the market,” he said. “Trust me, I’ve researched it quite a bit to find something for these small spaces, for a single-user restroom. It just gives you so much more privacy.”
Finnie, Egal’s CEO, said another benefit of the product is that it’s free. Noting the physical resemblance to toilet paper, she added that Pads On A Roll and other free-of-charge menstrual products, “should be as ubiquitous as toilet paper.”
Konjic said CPS has made it a mission for years now to bring free, quality, and accessible period products to its staff and students.
Over the past few years, he’s been working hard to meet that goal, which he said he hopes Pads On A Roll will help with.
In addition to the new rolls, the district also makes free period products available outside of restrooms, such as in the nurse’s office, according to Sujata Wycoff, director of communications for the district.
“Whatever an individual’s comfort level is, they are available in multiple ways, in multiple places,” she said.
Cambridge schools aren’t the only place where Egal pads are being made available. The rolls are also being used in the United Kingdom, Rwanda, and Rhode Island.
In Massachusetts, Egal will also be available at Mother Caroline Academy and Education Center, and Finnie said the company has had conversations with other Bay State cities and towns about their options for installing the product.
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