Scotland is set to become the first country to provide free period products
26 February 2020, 17:30
Tampon tax has been the leading cause of period poverty in the UK in the last few years, and now Scotland are taking back control by trying to become the first country in the world to offer every woman free access to sanitary products.
Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to provide all women with free period products, as MPs vote on a ground-breaking new law.
Following the launch of the campaign in 2017, the new bill would mean tampons and sanitary products would become readily available to everyone, and a huge leap forward in its success happened today, as major politicians from all parties in Scotland support the move.
According to a 2018 poll, it's thought that currently 25% of women and girls have missed school or work because they couldn't afford to buy period products, and major supermarkets recently came under fire for putting out anti-shoplifting signs next to shelves of sanitary towels.
View this post on Instagram
Period poverty is a real and present issue not just in the UK but globally 🌏 👆Thank you to some of the anonymous #FreePeriodStories we've had come in ❤️ To help tackle this we need to keep speaking out about all aspects of the menstrual experience. Share your #FreePeriodStories using the hashtag and tag @freeperiods and @thedigifairy
Free products are already available in primary and secondary schools throughout England and Wales, in a bid to stop girls missing out on lessons due to periods, and the new scheme has been trialled in Scotland with women from low-income backgrounds, distributing products to over 1,000 women.
If the new scheme is passed, it's estimated to cost the government around £9.7 million a year, but will be of priceless value to the women it helps.
What is period poverty?
Period poverty is when women, particularly from low-income households are unable to provide themselves with sanitary products to the extent that it can disrupt their work, education, and social lives.
It costs the average woman around £8 per month for tampons and pads (or almost £100 a year), so some people struggle with the cost.
What has already been done to tackle the problem?
Some products such as tampons and pads are already funded in schools, colleges and universities in Scotland, and have just become accessible to primary and secondary school girls in England.
£5.2 million was pledged to support this, plus another £50,000 awarded to sports clubs to give their members. Councils across the country have also been given £4million to put products in other public places. Some pubs and restaurants already put them in their toilets out of kindness, and not because they have to.
What difference will the bill make?
The period poverty bill will make sanitary products available to everyone who needs them. It is thought 19% of women have changed to a less suitable product because they couldn't keep up with the cost - and that's without counting those who can't afford any kind of protection.
The bill will also try to reduce period stigma, after it was found that 71% of 14-21 year olds feel embarrassed buying period products.