Scotland Is 1st Nation to Make Period Products Free


LONDON — Scotland has become the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all who need them, after final approval was given to a landmark piece of legislation in Parliament on Tuesday.

The measures are intended to end “period poverty” — or the circumstances, and in some cases, prohibitive expense that have left many without access to sanitary products when they need them.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, posted on Twitter shortly after the vote on Tuesday evening that she was “proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation” which she called an “important policy for women and girls.”

Lawmakers across the political spectrum voiced their support for the bill throughout its final debate, and praised Ms. Lennon and others for making it a reality.

Aileen Campbell, the cabinet secretary for communities and local government, speaking ahead of the vote, said the passage of this bill would send “a very clear message to the kind of Scotland we want to be.”

She said it was “clear that everyone in this chamber agrees that no one in our society should have to suffer the indignity of not having the means to meet their basic needs and that being able to access period products is fundamental to equality and dignity.”

It’s not just the cost of products that have been an issue. There are a variety of circumstances that make menstruation a difficult experience for women and girls, the creators of the bill say, including poverty, homelessness, abusive relationships and some health conditions. Some transgender people may also experience difficulties in accessing sanitary products.

And the issue has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, a study published by Plan International UK, a global children’s charity, showed earlier this year.

Almost a third of girls and women between ages 14 and 21 encountered problems either affording or accessing sanitary products during the first national lockdown this year, the survey showed. While schools across the United Kingdom have provided period products for free since last year, with schools and youth centers closed during the pandemic, more girls were left without the necessary supplies, the group said.

“It matters now more than ever because periods don’t stop in a pandemic,” Ms. Lennon said in Parliament.



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