Scotland just made history by becoming the first country in the world to give people free access to period products.
Last year, the government finally scrapped a 57-year-old so-called “tampon tax” – a move estimated to save the average woman nearly £40 over her lifetime. It happened a couple of months after the announcement that period products would be free in schools in a bid to end period poverty.
Although both actions were undoubtedly milestone moments in women’s health, they were both undeniably well overdue. So much more needs to be done in the continuing national conversations around menstruating and access to menstrual products.
That’s why today (25 November) we’re celebrating the news that Scotland just became the first country to make tampons and pads available to everybody for free. This means it is the first country to allow free and universal access to menstrual products in public facilities including schools, public buildings, workplaces, toilets and universities.
The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the Period Products bill on Tuesday (24 November), months after campaigners had initially signalled their support. According to the new rules, it will be up to local authorities and education providers to ensure the products are available free of charge.
Monica Lennon, the Labour MP who introduced the bill last year, said: “Periods don’t stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important.”
She added that while the legislation was “world-leading” and “ground-breaking”, schools should also offer “menstrual education” to all pupils to “end the stigma” of periods, and that she would work with trade unions to “improve period dignity in all workplaces”.
Ahead of the vote, she had powerfully stated: “Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first.”
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on her Twitter page after the vote: “Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them. An important policy for women and girls.”
It’s nice to hear some good news for women in the hellish year that is 2020.
Top image: Getty