Scotland becomes 1st nation to mandate access to free menstrual products a law
KOLKATA (India) — A charter unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament, Tuesday, made Scotland the first nation in the world to mandate free and unquestionable access to menstrual hygiene products for all.
The Period Products bill was passed after years of push from activists finally overturning the nation’s stance on menstruation and the spectrum of people who menstruates other than cisgender ‘women.’
In 2017 the bill was first proposed and it came a long way from being initially rejected to the enactment on Tuesday. Measures were taken in Scotland to ensure free access to menstrual hygiene products, but the bill makes it a right for the same.
The bill mandates menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins, tampons are made freely available in public places including in the washrooms of schools and universities across the nation.
“This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates,” Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, told the Guardian who drafted the bill. She said this was a proud day for the nation.
In a document supporting the move, Lennon said a 20% uptake of the scheme must be expected because inequality figures reflect at least 20% of Scottish women live in poverty.
The bill and the backers seek to address the growing concern of ‘period poverty’ — a condition where a person fails to pay or afford the basic menstrual hygiene requirements — which is on the rise.
As per the accompanying memorandum for the scheme’s budget, the Scottish government has set an initial cost of around £8.7 million a year by 2022 and much more if real figures kick in, depending on the number of people who utilize the scheme.
Concerns were also raised for ‘raids’ of the sanitary products cross-border to England because they are not freely publicly available, local media reported.
Across the UK, period poverty is an issue with research showing an average British woman would spend thousands of pounds on menstrual hygiene products in her lifetime.
According to a Plant International survey on 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21, one in every ten British women lack access to menstrual hygiene products. One in every 7 struggle to afford them.
Freedom4Girls – a charity dedicated to fighting poverty in women found many students miss their schools because of periods.
“With this landmark legislation, Scotland could soon become the first country in the world to eliminate period poverty once and for all, and with household finances under strain from the coronavirus restrictions, the need has never been greater,” Rose Caldwell, from children’s charity Plan International UK, said in a statement.
In the UK, that is comprised of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Great Britain, several menstrual hygiene initiatives have been enacted in the past few years.
Two years ago, Scotland mandated free access to menstrual hygiene products in schools, colleges, and universities via a government program. The move echoed in Wales and England the following year.