Scotland has become the first country to allow free and universal access to menstrual products in public facilities. The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the Period Products (Free Provisions) Bill on November 24, 2020. The bill was introduced by Monica Lennon.
So what does this mean?
- The Scottish Government must set up a Scotland-wide program to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge
- Schools, colleges and universities must make a range of period products available for free, in their toilets
- The Scottish Government will have the power to make other public bodies provide period products for free
One in 10 girls in the United Kingdom have been unable to afford period products, according to a 2017 survey from Plan International UK. The survey also found that nearly half of all girls aged 14 to 21 are embarrassed by their periods, while about half had missed an entire day of school because of them.
Monica Lennon’s aim for the Bill is to tackle “period poverty”, which is when some people who need period products struggle to afford them. She sees these products as a basic necessity, and believes that providing access to them is important for people’s dignity.
“The campaign has been backed by a wide coalition, including trades unions, women’s organisations and charities,” Monica Lennon, the lawmaker who introduced the bill last year, said ahead of the vote. “Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history.”
After the vote, Lennon said the decision was “a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved.
So what’s next?
Scotland is the first nation to make menstrual products accessible, but it shall not be the last. Across the United States, states have passed legislation requiring schools to offer free menstrual products in the bathrooms – most recently the state of Virginia. It is critical to continue the period positivity, menstrual movement, and activism.
What can you do?
- See menstrual products available in a public space? Take the time to say ‘thank you’ to the manager of the restaurant or take a picture and share on social media expressing how important it is.
- Advocate for freely accessible menstrual products at your school or office.
- Keep the conversation going and share this article with a friend.
- STOP shoving tampons up your sleeve.