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General News / August 17, 2022

Scotland becomes first country to make period products free

Image: Getty Images
General News / August 17, 2022

Scotland becomes first country to make period products free

Words: Ellen Kenny

Scotland has introduced new legislation that protects the right to free period products, but chose a man to implement this legislation.

Scotland made public health history this week and introduced the Period Products Act. This compels local authorities to provide free tampons, pads and other menstrual products in public places.

According to Monica Lennon MSP, the Labour politician who introduced this legislation, free period products will be available in libraries, swimming pools, public gyms, community buildings, town halls, pharmacies and doctors offices.

People can find their nearest free sanitary products through PickUpMyPeriod. This new app will show users all the locations offering free period products.

Scotland is the first country to legislate free period products. The legislation was first introduced in 2020 with unanimous support from the Scottish Parliament.

Lennon explained, “This is another big milestone for period dignity campaigners and grassroots movements which shows the difference that progressive and bold political choices can make.

“As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, the Period Products Act is a beacon of hope which shows what can be achieved when politicians come together for the good of the people we serve.”

Scotland’s Period Dignity Officer

Of course, things are never done perfectly in situations like this. Under the Period Products Act, the Period Dignity Regional Lead Officers implement and promote the legislation throughout Scotland. The Officer is expected to communicate with local authorities that free period products are available. They must also promote menstrual health in schools and public places.

In the Scottish region of Tay, the first Period Dignity Regional Lead Officer was appointed: a man named Jason Grant.

The announcement that Scotland’s first Period Dignity Officer was a men met fierce backlash. Gina Davidson, of radio station LBC, said the move “is the epitome of mansplaining”.

The job advert said the suitable candidate needed a “successful track record of engaging and empowering a large range of people from a diverse range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, in particular young people who menstruate”.

Local authorities in Tay defended the appointment, arguing, “The role builds on some fantastic work which has been gathering speed across the Tay region for several years, led by a passionate group of people of all genders, ages and backgrounds.”

Appointing a cisgender man to explain periods to young people seems a bit counterproductive. In all fairness, seeing a man speak so openly and confidently about menstrual health might encourage young people, particularly boys, to abandon any stigma around periods.

But women have been attempting to destigmatise period health and break down barriers for years now. Now that they are succeeding, will they get the platform they deserve?

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