World first: Scotland to offer free sanitary products to all students

Scotland has become the world’s first country to introduce free sanitary products to its citizens in an effort to reduce period poverty. The government announced they would spend £5.2 million to provide free pads and tampons to students in each of the country’s schools, colleges and universities. The news comes after the Scottish National Party launched a £500,000 scheme to ensure 18,800 women from low-income households can access free period products.

Earlier this year, research by girls’ rights charity Plan International found 42% of young women use makeshift sanitary wear because they struggle to afford products. Some admitted to using rolled-up socks and newspaper. Of the women surveyed, almost 30% said they wore a sanitary product for longer than the recommended time because they could not afford a fresh one. What’s worse, almost 50% of these say it impacts their intimate health (with many developing thrush and/or urinary tract infections as a result).

sanitary products

Aileen Campbell, a member of Scottish Parliament, told the Guardian, “I am proud that Scotland is taking this world-leading action to fight period poverty and I welcome the support of local authorities, colleges and universities in implementing this initiative. Our investment will mean these essential products will be available to those who need them in a sensitive and dignified way, which will make it easier for students to fully focus on their studies.”

Related: Open your eyes to Ireland's period poverty problem

Amika George, a teenager campaigning for free sanitary products across the UK, welcomed the news. Taking to Twitter, she said “Access to menstrual care is a right, not a privilege. Now, no student in school and college in Scotland will be held back because of their period. This is remarkable. Scotland, your vision must lead the way for other countries to follow suit.”

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The provision of free sanitary products to students is only the beginning. Scottish Labour politician Monica Lennon said, “This is another great step forward in the campaign against period poverty. Access to period products should be a right, regardless of your income, which is why I am moving ahead with plans for legislation to introduce a universal system of free access to period products for everyone in Scotland.”

Photo: Glasgow University, via WikiCommons

Related: Eco-friendly period products

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