Free period products campaign gets widespread backing

Monica Lennon MSP is pushing legislation to ensure sanitary products are made available on a universal basis.

An open letter calling for MSPs to support plans to provide free period products has been signed by dozens of charities, organisations and campaigners.

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon is pushing legislation to ensure sanitary products are made available on a universal basis, although the Scottish Government has argued a change in the law is not needed.

The letter welcomes the government’s efforts to provide free period products in schools, colleges and universities but says there is “wide support across parliament and civic Scotland” for giving women the legal right to access free tampons and sanitary towels.

A range of trade unions, the Educational Institute of Scotland, Endometriosis UK, Children in Scotland, Barnardo’s, the Poverty Alliance and Disability Equality Scotland are among more than 30 signatories to the letter.

Ms Lennon said: “I am overwhelmed by the widespread backing this Bill has received from organisations and individuals across Scotland and supporters across the world.

“Period poverty is a reality that causes shame for too many people and stops them fulfilling their potential.

“No-one should have to go to food banks to access essential period products and this Bill provides a solution that builds on the positive work that Scottish Government, local authorities and education partners are already committed to.”

She added: “This Bill is about dignity and equality and I’m proud it is supported by women’s, youth and LGBT organisations, trade unions, health experts and a wide range of groups, who all believe in period dignity for everyone.

“Legislation will lock in the progress that has been made so far, and go further by protecting the right to access period products in law.

“I want to work with the Scottish Government and all MSPs so that we can pass this world-leading legislation together.”

In a debate about the proposed Bill in Parliament last week, communities secretary Aileen Campbell estimated it could cost more than £24m a year to implement.

She also argued legislation is not needed because “significant and world-leading” action from the Scottish Government is already having an impact.

While Ms Campbell said Scottish ministers “fully believe in the principle
of ensuring that everyone who needs to access period products can do”, she
added: “At this point in time the legislation is not required.”

Free period products are currently available through primary and secondary schools across Scotland and in all 19 universities and 26 colleges, potentially helping almost 400,000 people.

The Scottish Government also works with hundreds of community groups to help more than 35,000 women access the free products, with further funding of £2.8m making them available in libraries, community centres, council offices and public toilets.

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