Scotland has become the first country to allow free and universal access to period products such as pads and tampons in public facilities. It is a historic victory for the global movement against period poverty.
Free period products
The Parliament in Scotland voted unanimously in favor of the Period Products bill on November 24. It was brought up months after lawmakers had initially signaled their support for the bill.
This means that period products will now be available to access in public buildings, including universities and schools all across Scotland, according to CBS News.
According to the new rules, it will be up to the local authorities and education providers to ensure that the products are available for all women and free of charge.
Monica Lennon, the lawmaker who introduced the bill in 2019, said ahead of the vote that the campaign had been backed by a wide coalition, including trade unions, women's organizations, and charities. She said that Scotland would not be the last country to make a move against period poverty.
After the unanimous vote, Lennon stated that the decision was a signal that free universal access to period products is possible and can be achieved.
The financial memorandum attached to the bill estimates that it could cost the country around £8.7 million or $11.6 million a year by 2022. Still, it depends on the number of women who will take advantage of the free period products.
In a document supporting the legislation, Lennon stated that it was reasonable to expect a 20% uptake of the scheme. This is because official inequality statistics show that almost 20% of Scotland's women live in relative poverty.
The new Period Products law was praised by numerous equality and women's rights groups as well as politicians from across the parties represented in the Scottish Parliament, according to Independent.Co.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on her official Twitter page after the vote that she is proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation and make Scotland the first country to give free period products for all women who need them.
Sturgeon added that it is an important policy for women and girls all over the country.
It has been reported that 1 in 10 girls in the United Kingdom has been unable to afford period products like tampons and pads, according to a survey from Plan International UK in 2017.
The survey also found that almost half of all the girls aged 14 to 21 years old are embarrassed by their periods, while around half had missed an entire day of school just because of them.
Scotland's move follows numerous attempts to tackle period poverty in the country. Back in 2018, the government announced that students in schools, colleges, and universities across the countries would be able to access sanitary products without charge through a £5.2 million investment.
In 2019, the government allocated another £4 million to make period products available for free in libraries and recreational centers. England has also launched an initiative to provide free sanitary products in schools. New Zealand also did the same in early 2020.
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