More than half a million people across Scotland can now access free period products, the Scottish Government said as MSPs were urged to back legislation to provide them for all in need.
Ministers said they have invested £15m to help make products such as sanitary towels and tampons available for free and tackle the stigma surrounding periods.
But Labour’s Monica Lennon called on the SNP and Scottish Conservatives to drop opposition to her plans for a new law aimed at ending period poverty.
Her member’s Bill to provide free period products to all who need them was rejected by a Holyrood committee last week, after the SNP and Tory members voted against it. Labour and Green MSPs voted in favour of the plan.
Those on the Local Government and Communities Committee who voted against the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill agreed there was “no clarity” over the total cost.
Lennon estimated the cost at £9.7m a year, but the Scottish Government said it could reach £24m.
The Bill will come before all MSPs in Holyrood later this month.
Speaking following a visit to an Asda store in Edinburgh where free period products are provided in bathrooms, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said the Government is “committed to making sure our work is reaching everyone it should”.
She said: “The work we are doing in Scotland is world-leading and I am delighted we are now reaching up to 500,000 women and girls.
“Every school, college and university in Scotland and over 800 community organisations now provide free products, and we are working with councils to make sure they are available in a range of community settings such as local libraries and town halls.
“Having your period is normal and natural – something half the population experiences. That’s why we launched a ground-breaking campaign, ‘Let’s Call Periods, Periods’, to challenge the stigma around periods and encourage more people to talk openly about them.
“The breadth and reach of what is happening here is not replicated anywhere else in the world and we are committed to making sure our work is reaching everyone it should.”
Lennon said: “Period products are essential items, not luxuries, and no-one should have to go without them.
“Legislation is the next progressive step we should be taking to make Scotland an unequivocal world leader on gender equality.
“My Bill will guarantee that free period products in schools, colleges and universities continue and that no-one ever has to struggle during their period.
“I hope that all MSPs will vote yes to this on February 25.”