Scotland has become the first country in the world to make sanitary products free for all.
The move comes after MSPs approved the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday.
The bill now means local authorities are legally duty bound to ensure that free sanitary products, such as tampons and sanitary pads, are made available to anyone who may need them.
A survey conducted by Young Scot found one in four respondents in college or university in Scotland struggled to have access to hygiene products. It can sometimes cost up to £8 a month for the necessary products.
Approximately 10% of girls in the UK are unable to afford period products, 15% have struggled to afford them and 19% have had to change to a less suitable product due the cost of some products.
The Bill was introduced by Labour MSP Monica Lennon who has been campaigning to end period poverty since 2016.
Lennon MSP said the bill was a “practical and progressive” which has been more vital because of the coronavirus pandemic:
“Periods don’t stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important”
The bill is also hoping to tackle period stigma with researches saying 71% of 14-21 year olds are embarrassed to buy period products. The impact on girl’s education is another aspect the bill is aiming to tackle as researchers also found almost half of girls have missed school due to their period.
The scheme will need to be in place for two years before the legislation can become law and the bill says ministers can place a duty on other “specified public service bodies” to provide free period products in the future.
It also puts in law that free period products must be available in schools, colleges and universities. However, this is already happening and Scotland was again the first country in the world to implement this.
The Scottish government decided to back the bill despite having previous concerns about how the system would work. However, the government proposed significant amendments to the bill as it proceeded through parliament meaning it is now backed by all of the parties at Holyrood.
Elsewhere, the UK government has its own period taskforce and free products were rolled out in all primary and secondary schools in England in January.
A handful of US states like California and Illinois have passed laws to ensure free period products are provided in schools.
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