Scotland has become the first country to make period products free for everyone that needs them, in a decision that was unanimously voted on by the Scottish Parliament.
On Monday, 15 August, the Period Products Act came into force, thanks to a bill proposed by Monica Lennon, a Labour MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) back in 2016. The law will allow anybody to access free sanitary products. Councils and education providers will be legally required to provide these products.
Lennon said: “Local authorities and partner organisations have worked hard to make the legal right to access free period products a reality.
“This is another big milestone for period dignity campaigners and grassroots movements which shows the difference that progressive and bold political choices can make.
“As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, the Period Products Act is a beacon of hope which shows what can be achieved when politicians come together for the good of the people we serve.”
The term for being unable to afford sanitary products is called period poverty. Access to period products can be cost prohibitive to people on low-incomes. Georgie Nicholson, from the social enterprise Hey Girls told the BBC that some young women have to make a choice between food and buying sanitary products:
“We hear of a lot of mothers going without their period protection just so they can feed their children and using things such as newspaper stuffed into socks or bread… because they’re cheaper than period products.”
In the UK sanitary products can cost up to £8 a month, when the job-seeking benefit is up to £61.05 up to 24 year of age, and up to £77.00 for over 25s.
A 2018 survey conducted by Young Scot also found that one in four respondents at school, college or university had struggled to access period products. more than 2,000 people by Young Scot found that about one in four respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access period products.
Elsewhere, charities and non-profits are aiming to help those who struggle to afford sanitary products. In Australia, the tampon tax was axed in 2018, and not-for-profit Share The Dignity is campaigning for hospitals to provide free sanitary items for those that need them. Lebanon, Kenya, and India have all abolished taxes on menstrual products too.