Scotland will be the first country to offer free sanitary products in every university, college and school

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Every university, college and school in Scotland will offer free sanitary products to students from next month

Last July, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products to women and girls from low-income households. 

The groundbreaking initiative, launched by the Scottish government, saw tampons and pads distributed to over 1,000 women in seven regeneration areas in Aberdeen.

The initial six-month pilot scheme – aimed at tackling the growing issue of period poverty – was launched in the country following the news that girls were missing school because they couldn’t afford to buy sanitary products. It was also partly inspired by the 2016 hit film I, Daniel Blake, featuring a scene in which an impoverished woman is forced to shoplift a packet of tampons.

The social enterprise charity Community Food Initiatives North East was given £10,000 by the Scottish Government to launch the scheme, and products were distributed to three secondary schools in Aberdeen as well as North East Further Education College, along with a variety of organisations including Scottish Women’s Aid, the Cyrenians and HomeStart.

Following the success of the scheme, the charity FareShare is set to distribute sanitary products across the country, reaching an estimated 18,800 people. It will receive over half a million pounds to achieve this. 

And in further good news for Scottish women, the government has announced a £5.2m scheme to supply free sanitary products in every university, college and school across the country. The initiative will launch in time for the start of the new school year next month.

Speaking about the news, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “In a country as rich as Scotland, it’s unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products…

“Our £5.2m investment will mean these essential products will be available to those who need them in a sensitive and dignified way, which will make it easier for students to fully focus on their studies.”

And speaking to about the initial pilot launch, Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, welcomed the initiative: “Period isn’t a dirty word, but for a really long time period poverty has been seen as an issue too murky and shameful to dive into.

“Anyone who has ever had a period will tell you that pads and tampons are no luxury, they are an absolute necessity. It is simply wrong that women and girls in Scotland are being forced to go without period products because they can’t afford them.”

Girls are missing school because they can't afford to buy sanitary products

Girls are missing school because they can't afford sanitary products

Dr Scott added that the pilot was a “step in the right direction”, especially for women in abusive relationships who might have their access to money for such products restricted by their abuser.

“For women experiencing domestic abuse, access to period products is further restricted when an abuser chooses to withhold either money to pay for and/or the products themselves as a way to control and humiliate his partner,” she said.

“We look forward to… continuing to work with others to find new solutions to the age old problem of women’s inequality.”

Here’s hoping a similar scheme will launch across the rest of the UK soon. 

This article was originally published on 12 July 2017

Images: iStock / Pinterest