Scotland becomes first country to give free sanitary products to low-income women

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

Scotland looks set to become the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products to women and girls from low-income households.

The news comes after the Scottish government launched a groundbreaking initiative yesterday, which will see free tampons and pads being distributed to seven regeneration areas in Aberdeen.

The six-month pilot scheme – aimed at tackling “period poverty” – has been launched just months after education secretary Justine Greening promised to “look carefully” into the possibility of providing free tampons to girls from low-income households in the UK, following the news that girls were missing school because they couldn’t afford to buy sanitary products.

Under the new scheme, free sanitary products will be 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. 

The social enterprise charity Community Food Initiatives North East, which helped launch the new scheme, has been given £10,000 by the Scottish Government to provide free protection to 1,000 women for six months, The Scotsman reports.

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 Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, welcomed the initiative, telling, “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.”

Dr Scott added that the pilot is 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.

“This pilot is a welcome step in the right direction, and we look forward to seeing the results and continuing to work with others to find new solutions to the age old problem of women’s inequality.”

"Pads and tampons are no luxury, they are an absolute necessity."

"Pads and tampons are no luxury, they are an absolute necessity."

Monica Lennon MSP, Labour’s inequalities spokeswoman, also welcomed the pilot scheme, but said it needs to go much further to provide sanitary protection for women and girls across the whole of Scotland.

Lennon, who has been vocal about the need for improved access to sanitary products and has led the campaign to end period poverty in Scotland, told The Scotsman“We must go much further to help women and girls across the country who are facing a monthly struggle to access the products they need.

“We need to end period poverty and improve access to sanitary products right across Scotland and that’s why I will soon be launching a consultation on a Members’ Bill proposal which will give all women in Scotland the right to access these products for free, regardless of their income.”

Here’s hoping a similar scheme will launch across the rest of the UK soon. Justine Greening, we’re looking at you…

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