Free period products have positive impact, study finds

Among those who accessed the free products, 84% said the initiative had a positive impact.

More than eight in ten girls and young women who accessed free period products say it has had a positive impact on them, according to a new study.

Research from Young Scot found that almost two-thirds (65%) of young women and girls in Scotland received free period products from their school, college or university in the past year.

Among those who accessed the free products, 84% said the initiative had a positive impact with almost nine in 10 (89%) saying they were less worried about having their period.

Almost two thirds (64%) said they were more able to continue with day-to-day activities during their period, while a quarter (25%) said having access to products has improved their mental health and wellbeing.

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One in eight (13%) of the 3602 people who responded said they accessed the free products because they or their family did not have enough money to pay for products.

The Scottish Government rolled out the scheme offering free sanitary products in Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities in August 2018 to help tackle so-called period poverty, describing the initiative as a world first.

Aileen Campbell MSP, communities and local government secretary, said: “It is clear from the results of this survey that our world-leading action to make free period products available to all students is having a positive impact.

“By working in partnership with local authorities, colleges and universities, it gives them the freedom to decide how to make products available to meet local needs.

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“We will continue to work with a wide range of organisations to build on the huge success of this scheme and widen access to period products in a dignified way for those who need them the most.”

The survey also found an increasing demand for more eco-friendly products.

More than half (52%) of those who responded said they would prefer to have access to a reusable period product – with 38% saying their preference is menstrual cups.

Among those who said they do not currently use reusable products, half (51%) would consider using them.

The research also highlighted several areas for improvement, including increasing the provision of reusable and eco-friendly products and extending the scheme to include workplaces and/or public spaces.

Louise Macdonald OBE, chief executive of Young Scot, said: “The uptake of the free sanitary products scheme has been incredible.

“Two-thirds of eligible students in school, college or university have received free products in the last year. But we can’t stop here.

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“We’re committed to working with the Scottish Government and partners to give more students access to free period products and to give them the eco-friendly options they are calling for.”

The survey, which ran between June and September last year, was promoted via Young Scot social media channels which focuses on 11-26 year olds and 96% of respondents were between 11-35 years old.