In a historic decision, Scotland became the first-ever country to make female menstrual hygiene products free. Scotland has allowed free and universal access to period products, including tampons and sanitary napkins, at all public facilities. It implies that menstrual hygiene products will be accessible to all free of cost in all public facilities including school buildings and universities across the country.
Several months after the lawmakers signaled their initial support to the Period Products Bill, the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted in favor of it. As per the new rules and regulations, the local authorities will be in charge of making sure that the Period Products Bill is upheld and the menstrual hygiene products are available to all without any cost.
Lawmaker Monica Lennon had introduced the bill in 2019. She said, "The campaign has been backed by a wide coalition, including trade unions, women's organizations, and charities. Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history."
She furthermore added, "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."
This move is a significant achievement and a milestone victory in the global fight against period poverty. Monica Lennon affirmed that the historic decision was a signal that free universal access to period products can be achieved.
The financial memorandum issued along with the Period Products Bill states that an estimate of £8.7 million is spent per year by 2022. These stats depend upon the number of women who will access the advantage of free period products. Monica Lennon stated that it was pretty reasonable to expect a 20% uptake of the scheme considering that around 20% of women in Scotland live in relative poverty according to the official inequality statistics.
Scottish Government's decision has been praised and appreciated by several women's rights groups and top politicians. According to the official data, United Kingdom suffers from an acute period poverty problem. A survey from 2017 showed that one in ten girls in the UK does not have access to basic menstrual hygiene products.