In a welcome decision, Scotland becomes the first country in the world to make sanitary products free for all women. The decision comes after a four-year campaign to end “Period Poverty”.
On Tuesday evening, The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill was unanimously passed through its final stage. The bill will place a legal duty on local authorities to make period products available to people who need them. This measure makes sanitary pads and tampons available at designated public places. These include community centers, youth clubs, and pharmacies. Estimation indicate that the annual cost to taxpayers will be 24 million pounds ($32 million).
This measure will be built on the work of councils like that of North Ayrshire. Since 2018, the council of North Ayrshire has been providing free tampons and sanitary pads in their public building.
Monica Lennon headed the campaign for the bill. She told Guardian that it was “a proud day for Scotland”. She is the Member of Parliament for Scottish Labour and has gathered nationwide support for her campaign.
During the debate, Lennon added, “No one should have to worry about where their next tampon, pad or reusable is coming from. Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history, but we have the chance to be the first.”
What is Period Poverty?
Period Poverty is the scuffle that women have to face for buying sanitary products every month. Reports indicate that Period Poverty has seen a sharp rise during the Covid pandemic.
Research conducted by Women for Independence indicates that nearly one in five women has gone through period poverty. Thus, their hygiene, health, and wellbeing go through a notable impact. On an estimate, women spend around 13 pounds a month on menstrual health products. Eventually, leading to several thousand pounds over a lifetime.
Scotland’s Historical Decision
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland called it “an important policy for women and girls”.
Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them. An important policy for women and girls. Well done to @MonicaLennon7 @ClydesdAileen and all who worked to make it happen https://t.co/4lckZ4ZYIY
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 24, 2020
She took to Twitter to express her joy. “Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them,” read her Twitter post.
Lennon said that the bill is going to make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates. Furthermore, she added that there has already been great progress at a community level and through local authorities in giving everyone the chance of period dignity.
She said that they have observed a massive change in the public life. This change is in the ways they discuss periods and menstrual health. She added, “A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream. MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.”
Back in 2017, Sturgeon also announced that the legislation will also enshrine in law the requirement for schools, colleges, and universities to provide the products for free. The Scottish government also funded a project in Aberdeen to deliver free products to households with low income. They also provided 4 million pounds for different councils to continue the roll-out to other public places.
Scotland has thus continued to become a world-first for quite some time. With this new rule, women in Scotland will finally see an end to Period Poverty. Currently, it is quite common to find a sanitary pad or tampon at restaurants, pubs, or even football clubs. If you walk into a women’s toilet in Scotland, you will find free products by a sink.