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The ‚Period Poverty‘ has come to an end in Scotland, after a years-long debate over the right to free sanitary products for all women.

Last Tuesday became a landmark day for the women of Scotland, with a bill just passing that has made all period products freely available for those who need them. It is the first legislation to pass of any kind in the world in a parliament. The Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was one of the first to comment on Twitter announcing the legislation passing which she called ‚an important policy for women and girls.‘ Prior to the law being passed, Scotland was the first country to introduce free sanitary products to schools, colleges, and universities through a government-funded program. England and Wales then followed last year with similar programs that provided free sanitary products in schools.

Over the past years, the question of ‚period poverty‘ and how to accommodate those who are unable to afford or have access has been a highly discussed issue in the Scottish Parliament – and rightfully so. Plan International UK found that during lockdown 30% of girls struggled to afford or access period products while 54% have used toilet paper as an alternative to period products. 20% of those surveyed said their periods have been harder to manage due to the lack of toilet paper available. Tuesday’s victory was praised and supported by the Scottish government and opposition leaders in Holyrood. 

Monica Lennon, of the labor MSP party, was passed at the forefront of getting the bill. Lennon wants to continue the discussion not only about the right to free sanitary products but continuing the conversation by introducing ‚period‘ education in schools, which would help fight the stigma surrounding periods and educate youth about menstruation. In a speech afterward, Lennon was hopeful that other countries would follow in Scotland’s groundbreaking law: „Periods don’t stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important.“ 

Text: Sam Kavanagh

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