Scotland becomes first country in the world to make menstrual products free

27 per cent of women in the UK are unable to afford sanitary products

The Scottish parliament on Tuesday voted unanimously to pass a bill to make menstrual products free of charge in public places, becoming the first country in the world to do so.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill places a legal duty on all 32 of Scotland's councils to ensure items such as tampons and sanitary pads are free to anyone that needs them.

Under the bill, schools, colleges and universities must also make a range of period products available free of charge in their toilets. The government will also have the power to make other public institutions provide period products free of charge.

Period poverty, a situation in which those living on low incomes cannot afford suitable menstrual products, is a common problem. Around one in four respondents at schools, colleges or universities in Scotland had struggled to access period products, according to a survey by Young Scot, a national youth charity.

In a wider survey performed across the UK, 27 per cent of women said they were in period poverty and were unable to afford sanitary products. Period poverty can cause girls and women to miss school or work due to embarrassment over not being able to afford protection.

Labour MSP for central Scotland Monica Lennon, who has been campaigning to end period poverty since 2016, introduced the bill.

She has described providing free menstrual products as “the final step in our legislative journey for period dignity”.

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