Words: Dylan Murphy
The legislation hopes to bring an end to period poverty in Scotland which affects nearly 20% of women.
Members of Scottish Parliament made history last night as they passed legislation to become the first country to provide the legal right of free access to period products.
The parliament passed the bill brought forward by Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon by a unanimous vote. Speaking on the bill Ms Lennon said the bill was a “practical and progressive” piece of legislation.
“Periods don’t stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important” she said.
The “Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill” ensures that public buildings have a legal obligation to provide free period products. Likewise, local councils in Scotland have a duty to ensure that the products are available and freely accessible to “anyone who needs them”.
It comes after a four year campaign and a non-partisan approach to legislating on the issue.
While sanitary products were free students in school in Scotland, the legislation has now created a legal obligation on ministers to ensure anyone can access them.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, a period poverty committee was set up by Simon Harris in 2019. According to a 2018 study, half of girls aged between 12 and 19 admitted to struggling to pay for period products in the past.
The problem has been exacerbated during the pandemic and is especially dire for those in Direct Provision.
Although pads and tampons are not subject to VAT in Ireland, products such as menstrual cups still are.