First, free menstrual supplies had to be provided by schools and universities, and later on by public institutions. Now, in Scotland, a law has entered into force that guarantees universal access to such products throughout the country. You can get free sanitary pads or tampons from one of over a thousand indicated points.
A law providing free access to menstrual products – originally called the Period Products Act – entered into force on Monday, August 15. Scotland is the first country in the world to pass such a law. It obliges the authorities to make supplies such as sanitary napkins and tampons free to anyone who needs them.
You will be able to get menstrual products at one of over a thousand collection points located throughout the country. A special government application allows you to find the nearest point. In addition to providing free products, the government has funded an educational website and has committed to improving the health care of women with menstrual problems.
Campaign for free access to sanitary products
The entry into force of the law is the result of a campaign led by Monica Lennon, Labor MP. In November 2020, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a law giving the country’s citizens free access to sanitary products in public buildings. “Local authorities and partner organizations have worked hard to implement the right to free menstrual drugs,” Lennon said at the time. “With the rising cost of living, the law is a light in the tunnel that shows what can be achieved when politicians unite for the good of the people we serve,” he adds. According to the creators of the campaign, menstrual products should be available as easily as toilet paper.
Two years earlier, the obligation to provide free access to these products in all schools and universities came into force. As BBC Scotland writes, since 2017 Scottish authorities have spent about 27 million pounds on providing free access to the country’s residents to protective products used during the period.
Difficult choice: menstrual products or baby food
The organization Hey Girls, fighting against the so-called menstrual poverty in the UK, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, carried out a study which found that one in four Scottish women had or is having difficulties accessing such products for financial reasons. “We hear many stories of mothers giving up menstrual drugs to feed their babies and using substitutes such as socks stuffed with newspapers or bread. Because they’re cheaper than specialty products,” Hey Girls member Georgie Nicholson told the BBC.
Scotland is the first country in the world to implement a law that guarantees universal access to menstrual products. In several other countries, such funds are distributed in educational establishments. Binding laws were adopted in New Zealand, parts Australiasome states in USAthe French Île-de-France region, Korean Seoul or several African countries, incl. KenyaZambia and Botswana.
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