Scotland becomes first country to make sanitary products free

Monica Lennon (second left) with campaigners against period poverty outside Scotland's Parliament in February.

In a landmark move to eliminate ‘period poverty,’ Scotland became the first nation in the world to provide free and universal access to menstrual products for all women.

The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish parliament on 24th November 2020. A draft bill regarding the same was passed earlier in the year.

This mandates that all sanitary products, which include sanitary pads and tampons, be available in all public buildings such as community centres, youth clubs, and pharmacies. Schools and universities across Scotland are also expected to have these products for those who need them.

Remarkably, Scotland also made history in 2018 by becoming the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products in educational institutes such as schools, colleges, and universities.

Depending on how many women avail this facility, this initiative could cost around £8.7 million a year by 2022.

During the debate, the bill’s proposer, Scottish Labour Member of Parliament Monica Lennon, the lawmaker who submitted the draft proposal of the bill, said, “No one should have to worry about where their next tampon, pad or reusable is coming from.”

“We have shown that this Parliament can be a progressive force for change when we collaborate,” she said, speaking in front of Parliament before the vote. “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.”

According to the international children’s charity Plan International UK, about one-third of the women in the United Kingdom that are aged between 14 and 21 have had difficulties affording or accessing sanitary products during lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

This step was lauded by women’s rights activists and groups from across the world.

Isn’t this a very progressive step by the Scottish government? Let us know your views about this initiative in the comments section below.

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