Scotland becomes first country in the world to offer free period products to people who need them
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Scotland as become the first country in the world to provide free period products.
The Period Products Act (Free Provision) came into effect today (Monday, August 15), enabling local authorities and education providers to distribute products to anyone that needs them free of charge.
The bill was initially introduced by Labour MSP Monica Lennon back in 2016 and she's been rallying to end period poverty ever since.
BBC News reports that Lennon said the piece of legislation became even more critical in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Periods don't stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important," she said.
The Scottish politician also told The Guardian that the conversation in Parliament around women’s health is shifting.
“A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream,” she said.
“MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.”
🩸Women, girls and people who menstruate should never face the indignity of period poverty.— Monica Lennon MSP (@MonicaLennon7) August 14, 2022
🏴Proud that we are making period dignity for all a reality.
✅Free period products have been widely available in communities ahead of the Act taking full legal effect tomorrow. https://t.co/8Kx3o543cZ
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said the new act would help remove socioeconomic barriers, especially in a cost of living crisis.
She said: “Providing access to free period products is fundamental to equality and dignity, and removes the financial barriers to accessing them.
“This is more important than ever at a time when people are making difficult choices due to the cost of living crisis and we never want anyone to be in a position where they cannot access period products.”
According to Plan International UK research, one in 10 schoolgirls has experienced period poetry across the UK.
Over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty, and 68 per cent said they felt less focused in class while menstruating.
Additionally, one in three schoolgirls in the UK have also used toilet paper while on their period as they could not afford period and sanitary products.
Lennon also said she hopes other nations have noted the recent progress in Scotland and can follow their lead.
“It’s an important message in the middle of a global pandemic that we can still put the rights of women and girls high up the political agenda,” she said.