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Scotland becomes first nation to provide free period products for all

Scotland has become the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to period products after a four-year campaign that has fundamentally shifted the public discourse around menstruation, the Guardian reported yesterday.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act, which passed unanimously through its final stage on Tuesday evening, will place a legal duty on local authorities to make period products available for all those who need them, building on the work of councils like North Ayrshire, which has been providing free tampons and sanitary towels in its public buildings since 2018.

The campaign – bolstered by nationwide grassroots support – was spearheaded by Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, who told the Guardian this was “a proud day for Scotland”.

Lennon said: “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.

“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 Guardian said ‘Period Poverty’– the struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis – has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, according to charities.

Earlier research by the grassroots group Women for Independence revealed that nearly one in five women had experienced period poverty, which has a significant impact on their hygiene, health and wellbeing.

Women are estimated to spend an average of £13 a month on period products and several thousand pounds over a lifetime.