Navy Seeks to Develop Reusable Menstrual Underwear for Women Sailors

Navy Seeks to Develop Reusable Menstrual Underwear for Women Sailors

Navy seeks $60,000 to develop reusable menstrual underwear for female sailors, addressing the Pink Tax and enhancing comfort and inclusivity.

The Navy seeks $60,000 in research and development funds for reusable menstrual underwear to enhance female sailors’ inclusivity and comfort. 

This initiative, detailed in the Sea Service’s fiscal 2025 budget request justification records, aims to address the so-called Pink Tax and improve the overall experience for women in the Navy.

Addressing the Pink Tax

The Pink Tax refers to the additional costs women incur for necessary products, including menstrual supplies. 

Historically, women have faced higher costs for uniform components than their male counterparts. 

The Navy’s Clothing and Textile Research Facility in Virginia Beach spearheads this project. 

The goal is to develop reliable, reusable, and easily replaceable menstruation products for female sailors.

The document states, “To address the Pink Tax associated with textile products required by Sailors who menstruate, [the textile research facility] proposes to evaluate reliable, reusable, and easily replaceable menstruation products to be issued or available to Sailors.”

Benefits of Reusable Menstrual Underwear

The proposal highlights several benefits of the reusable menstrual underwear, including:

  • Environmental and Logistic Benefits: Reducing menstrual product waste.
  • Enhanced Comfort and Fit: Emphasis on material testing and design to create comfortable undergarments.

The research will consider existing commercial products like Thinx, a super-absorbent period underwear recognized by Time magazine as one of the best inventions in 2015.

Meeting Specific Needs of Sailors

The proposal notes that more work is needed to meet the specific needs of sailors in deployed and training environments. 

This includes rigorous material testing and design development to ensure the final product suits military conditions.

Comparison of Research and Development Funds

Fiscal YearTotal Requested FundsSpecific R&D for Clothing
2024$430,000$60,000
2025$630,000$60,000

The $60,000 request for menstrual underwear is part of a larger $630,000 request for clothing-specific research and development, reflecting an increased focus on Sailor protection, comfort, and quality of life.

A First in Military Services

This reusable menstrual underwear effort is a pioneering initiative within the military services. 

In 2022, the U.S. Army Development Command introduced “tactical bras” for physically demanding tasks, emphasizing the importance of comfortable, supportive garments for female soldiers.

Other ongoing projects addressing the needs of female military personnel include the development of in-flight bladder relief devices and maternity flight suits. 

The Navy and Air Force are still testing these devices to provide female pilots and aircrew practical solutions for long missions.

Legislative Support for Cost Equity

The U.S. military’s recognition of the Pink Tax on uniform items was prompted by a 2021 Government Accountability Office report, which revealed that enlisted women could pay significantly more out of pocket than male troops. 

This led to legislation in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, eliminating these cost inequities.

Conclusion

The Navy’s initiative to develop reusable menstrual underwear is a significant step towards supporting the unique needs of female sailors, addressing the Pink Tax, and enhancing their comfort and inclusivity within the military. 

This project reflects the U.S. military’s broader efforts to accommodate better and support female service members in various aspects of their service.

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