Scotland has become the world’s first country to provide free and universal access to sanitary products for women of all age groups, after the Scottish parliament unanimously passed a legislation on Tuesday.
Under the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act, the Scottish government will introduce a nationwide program which will place a legal duty on all local authorities to make feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads freely available for those who need them, the Guardian reported.
The measure will make sanitary pads and tampons freely available at nearly all public places including community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies, at an estimated cost of £8.7 million pounds a year by 2022. Schools, colleges and universities will also be mandated to make feminine hygiene products accessible for students, Forbes reported.
The goal of the campaign is to eliminate “period poverty” by ensuring that everyone has access to basic sanitary products, according to Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, who introduced the bill in April, 2019.
“This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates. There has already been great progress at a community level and through local authorities in giving everyone the chance of period dignity,” she told the Guardian.
“There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life. A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream. 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.”
The new law has been widely praised by a number of women’s rights groups and politicians in Scotland. Data shows that the United Kingdom has an acute ‘period poverty’ problem. A 2017 survey from children’s charity Plan International found that one in 10 girls in the UK are not able to afford basic period products.
In 2018, Scotland became the first country to provide free feminine hygiene products in all schools and universities.