On Tuesday, the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to allow free and universal access to menstrual products such as tampons and pads in public facilities across the country, making Scotland the first country to pass legislation making sanitary products a legal right for its residents.
But this is just the most recent development in Scotland’s recent history of working towards guaranteeing tampons and pads are more accessible for its citizens. In 2018, the country made history in combatting period poverty when it implemented a program to make menstrual products free for students in schools, colleges, and universities. Last year Scotland took it a step further, making sure period products were also available for free in libraries and recreational centers across the country.
Prior to the parliament vote, the cabinet secretary for communities and local government Aileen Campbell said that the passage of the bill would make it “clear that everyone in this chamber agrees that no one in our society should have to suffer the indignity of not having the means to meet their basic needs and that being able to access period products is fundamental to equality and dignity.”
A study published earlier this year found that almost one-third of girls and women between the ages of 14 and 21 struggled either in affording or accessing sanitary products during the country’s first lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the fact that schools and other educational facilities have been providing menstrual products for free since 2018, pandemic-related school closings made it more difficult for young people to actually obtain the products. Lawmakers hope that this new bill will help bridge that gap in access.
Although it will be up to local officials on the ground to help implement the legislation, the bill’s financial memorandum estimates that the program will cost Scotland around 8.7 million pounds a year.