Scotland first in world to make period products free

Scotland just became the first country worldwide to pass legislation making sanitary products for women completely free of charge. 

Every Parliament MSP cast their approving vote for a bill crafted by Labour health spokeswoman  Monica Lennon, ushering in the legal free access of products such as tampons and period pads.

Ms. Lennon celebrated the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill as a “practical and progressive” step forward.

She said:

“Periods don’t stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important.”

She has been working on the issue of periods and poverty ever since she was elected to Holyrood back in 2016. 

Ms. Lennon said:

“On the issue of period dignity, I am beyond proud that Scotland is leading the way and we have moved at a fast pace in a short space of time.”

She told MSPs:

“We have got here because we have worked together. We have shown that this parliament can be a force for progressive change when we collaborate.

Our prize is the opportunity to consign period poverty to history. In these dark times we can bring light and hope to the world this evening.”

The groundbreaking legislation was passed with a unanimous vote of 121 to 0, winning all support from both the government as well as opposition parties. 

Aileen Campbell, the country’s Communities Secretary, championed the new legislation as a “significant moment for gender equality”.

She said it was:

“a great privilege to be here today on a day that we will commit to Scotland becoming the first country in the world to legislate to ensure that free period products are available to all who need them”.

She continued:

“This legislation will do much to advance equality and social justice here in Scotland and elsewhere, as other countries seek to follow our path.”

Chief executive of the charity Plan International, Rose Caldwell, noted:

“In making this world-first commitment, the Scottish government has shown itself to be a pioneer in tackling period poverty, and we hope that nations around the world will follow its lead.

With this landmark legislation, Scotland could soon become the first country in the world to eliminate period poverty once and for all, and with household finances under strain from the coronavirus restrictions, the need has never been greater.

This new law will help to ensure that no girl or woman in Scotland struggles to afford period products.”

Ms. Caldwell also said that rollout of the legislation would be “critical”, adding:

“Period poverty is driven by a ‘toxic trio’ of issues, which on top of the cost of period products, includes a lack of education and the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation.

We know, for example, that only a third (31%) of girls in Scotland feel comfortable asking teachers for period products in school.

That’s why, alongside free products, we need education and training for girls, schools and parents to help tackle the stigma and embarrassment around periods as well as the cost.”

What are your thoughts on Scotland’s incredible step forward? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it of value.

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