Scotland in world first to protect right to access free period products

Access to free period products for those who need them is now protected by law.

Scotland in world first to protect right to access free period products iStock

The right to access free period products is now protected by law in Scotland in a world first.

Scotland becomes the first nation in the world to introduce a legal requirement for the provision of period products free of charge to those who need them.

It will apply to councils and education providers across the country.

MSPs voted in favour of legislation to make the change back in November, 2020.

On Monday, August 15, the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act comes into force.

Work has already been undertaken to make free period products available in public settings in Scotland.

However, the Act now makes it a legal requirement for local authorities, as well as education settings such as universities and colleges.

An app, ‘PickupMyPeriod‘, has already been launched to help people to locate free products.

Labour's Monica Lennon described it as a 'major milestone'.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon played a key role in the campaign to end period poverty.

She described the introduction of the Act as a “major milestone”, which Scotland can be proud of.

“It’s a major milestone for the period dignity campaign,” she told STV News.

“Councils and charities, community groups, have been doing the hard work already to improve access to period products, to make people aware of how they can access them.

“But now people know that they have this legal right, so that’s really, really important.

“And I hope it also sends out a message to other countries, other governments, that they can do this too.”

Lennon said that the legislation had “put Scotland on the map” not just on gender equality, but in demonstrating the willingness to invest in tackling the issue of period poverty.

She said: “It makes me very proud as the MSP who pioneered the Bill and took it through parliament.

“It wasn’t always a smooth process, it did take a long time, but I’m really proud of what we achieved together in the Scottish Parliament.

“It’s really put Scotland on the map in terms of not just talking about gender equality, but showing that we’re going to put investment into this.

“We’re going to make it easier for people to talk about periods in school, in the workplace, at home as well.

“And if people are struggling, not just in terms of the cost of managing their periods, but also we’ve opened up a conversation about what it’s like when your periods are really painful, when it’s affecting your quality of life.

“So there’s a wider issue now around the health of women and girls, and that’s really the next step in the campaign for me.

“To make sure that menstrual health and wellbeing is a priority.

“But it is a big moment, it is a major milestone and I think in Scotland, we should be very proud.”

Social justice secretary Shona Robison has said that providing access to free period products is “fundamental” to equality and dignity.

Robison also underlined the importance of the Act in removing financial barriers, particularly in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The work we are doing in Scotland continues to be world leading, going goes beyond provision of free products,” she said.

“We have also provided funding for an educational website for employers, run a successful anti-stigma campaign, and improved menstrual health resources available for schools.

“I’m grateful to all the young women and girls who have been crucial in developing the best ways to access products to meet their needs.”

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