Scotland becomes the first country to offer free period products to anyone who needs them with landmark legislation coming into force
- Scotland’s Menstrual Products Bill legally protects people’s right to sanitary items
- Boards and education providers must make them available to those who need them.
- Introduced by Monica Lennon, the bill takes effect tomorrow
- New mobile app highlights over 1,000 sanitary item collection points
Scotland will become the first nation in the world to legally protect people’s rights to free products for the period from tomorrow, when landmark legislation comes into force.
Under the Period Products Bill, municipalities and education providers must make tampons and sanitary pads available to anyone who needs them.
According to the Scottish Government, it has ‘spent over £27m to fund access in a variety of public settings’, saying ‘the new law will consolidate this progress’.
The bill, introduced by Labor health spokesperson Monica Lennon and passed in November 2020, aims to eliminate period poverty and help households under financial strain.
It was unanimously approved by the MSPs after gaining the support of the Scottish Government and the other opposition parties at Holyrood.
Councils and education providers must make menstrual products, including tampons, sanitary pads and reusable products, available to anyone who needs them when the landmark legislation takes effect tomorrow.
The measures are expected to eliminate period poverty in the country and help households under financial pressure. Pictured: A supporter of the Period Products Bill at a rally outside Parliament in Edinburgh in February 2020, nine months before the bill was passed.
Speaking when the bill passed, Ms Lennon said it was “practical and forward-thinking” legislation, made all the more vital by the coronavirus pandemic.
Labor’s MSP, who has been working to tackle period poverty since she was elected to Holyrood in 2016, said: “Periods don’t stop by pandemics and work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important.” ‘
She said: “On the subject of period dignity, I am beyond proud that Scotland is leading the way and we have moved at a rapid pace in a short space of time.”
The Menstrual Products Law: Where to get free sanitary products
Under the new legislation, Scottish councils can decide the precise measures put in place when it comes to providing free sanitary products.
However, they have a legal obligation to ensure that a range of products can be accessed “with relative ease” by “anyone who needs them”.
Products should be made available by both councils and education providers.
Schools, colleges and universities must make them available in restrooms.
People can find their nearest collection point through the PickupMyPeriod mobile app which was launched earlier this year by social enterprise Hey Girls with support from the Scottish Government.
His bill passed by 121 votes to zero after winning the support of the Scottish Government and the other opposition parties at Holyrood.
Speaking before the bill takes effect tomorrow, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “Providing access to free menstrual products is critical to equality and dignity, and removes financial barriers to access. they”.
“This is more important than ever at a time when people are making tough decisions due to the cost of living crisis and we never want anyone to be in a position where they can’t access period products.
‘Since 2018, we have taken innovative action by providing free period products for pupils and students in all our schools, colleges and universities. We are proud to be the first national government in the world to take such action.
‘The work we are doing in Scotland continues to be world leading and goes beyond providing free products. We also provided funding for an educational website for employers, ran a successful anti-stigma campaign, and improved menstrual health resources available to schools.
‘I am grateful to all the young women and girls who have been crucial in developing the best ways to access products to meet their needs.’
Social enterprise Hey Girls has created a mobile app, PickupMyPeriod, that will help people find the nearest pickup point for items.
Hey Girls founder Celia Hodson said: “The Menstrual Products Act shows that Scotland is at the forefront in recognizing that menstrual products are not a luxury and should be freely available to all.”
He added that the app currently highlights more than 1,000 pickup locations for users.