The Scottish parliament has just approved plans to make sanitary products available to all women, becoming the first country in the world to make tampons and sanitary pads free.
A historic, life-changing moment.
The Bill, known as the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill, passed through the first stage of the Scottish parliament yesterday, 25th of February, with 112 votes in favour, none against, and one abstention.
According to the new legislation, tampons and sanitary pads will be freely available at designated public places – such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies.
The bill’s proposer Monica Lennon said in a statement: “It is a milestone moment for normalising menstruation in Scotland and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality.”
Fellow lawmaker Alison Johnstone added: “Why is it in 2020 that toilet paper is seen as a necessity but period products aren’t? Being financially penalised for a natural bodily function is not equitable or just.”
A recent study, commissioned by INTIMA and conducted by OnePol, revealed that the average woman spends £10.24 per month on menstrual products, for a total of up to £4,916 during an average reproductive lifetime (ages 12-52).
According to the survey conducted, 49 per cent of 2,000 women (aged 18–55) have faced a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets and hand washing facilities. Two-thirds (60 per cent) of respondents said they have had to budget in order to afford sanitary items. 79 per cent of women also said they have made sacrifices to be able to buy menstrual products.
But period poverty is not a new thing in the UK. It is a serious issue affecting women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products, and/or who are unable to manage their periods with dignity.
The goal of the new Bill is to make period products readily available to anyone who needs them, without restrictions. And this is a good start: the Bill has passed the first stage and it’s now facing the second one, where members of the Scottish government will put forward amendments and will discuss affordability.