In Scotland, Period Products Are Totally Free

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Women have been saying for decades that it’s unfair and classist and sexist to force women to pay for menstrual products like pads, tampons, cups, etc. We don’t ask to menstruate, after all, and without said activity, all of society would cease to exist.

In the way back, women were banished to a “red tent” for the duration, their only company other menstruating women, and I’ve gotta say, that sounds pretty sweet.

That would never work now, because our households would collapse in our 4-5 day absence.

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Scotland, though, is the first nation to step up and provide period products for free to every woman under their care.

The legislation came about after four years of grassroots efforts that were spearheaded by Monica Lennon, Scotland’s Labour health spokeswoman.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act passed unanimously and demands that local authorities make period products available to anyone who needs them free of charge – and some town councils have already been doing that good work going back to 2018.

Lennon spoke about the landmark decision.

“This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates.

There has already been great progress at a community level and through local authorities in giving everyone the chance of period dignity.”

The struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis has been a constant source of consternation for people, especially during trying times like the ones we’ve had recently.

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Research by the grassroots group Women for Independence found that 1 in 5 women has struggled to pay for period products, a fact that impacts their hygiene, health, and wellbeing.

Lennon continued:

“There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life.

A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream.

MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.”

Women spend an estimated $18/month on period products, which really adds up between the ages of 12 or so and 50.

The Scottish government had originally challenged the idea that the products should be free to all women, regardless of means, but cross-party support grew in the face of pressure from activists, trade unions, and civil society groups.

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Schools, colleges, and universities will also be required to provide the products for free, and have largely been doing so since 2017.

Many businesses like bars, restaurants, and even football clubs have also been offering free products of their own accord – seeing it had become almost common in recent years.

Lennon and others believe this landmark decision will serve as beacon for other developed nations to follow suit. It proves the the rights of women and girls are important, and at the very least, belong on the agenda.