Following a four-year campaign, Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon has been successful in her fight for the legal right of free sanitary products for all who menstruate in Scotland.
The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act obligates the Scottish Government to put in place resources that will allow universal access to anyone who needs products such as tampons or sanitary towels and also gives them the power to make other public bodies in the country follow suit.
Speaking in an announcement video on the government’s official Twitter account (@scotgov), Nicola Sturgeon talked of how this movement builds on the introduction of a 2018 law in Scotland which made such products available for free in colleges and schools.
“Ensuring that people have access to period products is a matter of basic equality”
“The legislation creates a universal right of access to free period products. It will therefore make products more easily available. It will promote period dignity. And it will improve the lives of many, across our country” Sturgeon said.
The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill has been passed unanimously by @ScotParl.— Scottish Government (@scotgov) November 25, 2020
This means that Scotland will be the first country in the world to ensure there is access to free period products for anyone who needs them. pic.twitter.com/vr9NSI8A7u
https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/landmark-policy-to-protect-women-from-poverty-will-lead-the-world-and-makes-me-proud-to-be-a-scot/This inaction into law also gives a spotlight to a topic which may be considered taboo in the eyes of some people, eradicating the idea of shame in relation to menstruation.
A 2017 study conducted by Plan International UK discovered that 48 per cent of girls aged 14- 21 in the UK are embarrassed by their periods, while almost three quarters (71%) revealed that they have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products.
Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government exemplified what this Bill means in relation to this when she explained that Scotland in a country where “no one has to go through the indignity of using unsuitable materials to mask their periods or stretch household budgets further to buy products for their children, or miss out on education.”
Campbell epitomized this as she expressed her want to see a nation free of embarrassment around the conversation of menstruation, saying she wants to see “A Scotland where no one has to hide a tampon up their sleeve.”
Although Lennon described the move as “practical and progressive”, she appeared disappointed that “this has been a long time coming.”
“Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history but we have the chance to be the first” she added. The question now remains, which country will be next to implement such actions, and where will the rest of Britain, as well as other European countries such as Ireland stand in the crusade.
From a sporting context, this also has great ramifications and as Judy Murray says, signifies a giant leap forward to creating a more equal society for all.