MSPs will vote today on whether to provide free sanitary products in public buildings, which could see Scotland become the first country in the world to do so — an important move against period poverty.
Scotland could become the first country in the world to provide universal access to period products today, as MSPs are set to vote on the Period Products Bill, which if passed, would introduce a legal right of free access to sanitary products in public buildings.
The Bill has been brought forward by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who said, “We are in the final miles of a long journey and I am heartened by the support for the Period Products Bill. I am optimistic that we will complete that ground breaking journey today. Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first. This law will ensure no-one has to go without essential period products.”
It's a move that seeks to address the problem of period poverty, where people who menstruate aren't able to afford period products, which is as much of an issue in Ireland as it is in Scotland.
In 2018, an Irish survey found that half of girls between 12 and 19 said that they had experienced issues paying for sanitary products, which can see them miss school when they're on their period. Those in low income families, direct provision centres, women's refuges and homeless women are also particularly affected by period poverty.
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Campaigners point out that like toilet paper, which is provided without question in all public bathrooms, period products are not a luxury, they are just as essential.
Pads and tampons currently have a zero per cent VAT rate in Ireland (although menstrual cups are not included in this), and Dublin City Council has provided free period products in its buildings since last year, but this is not enough for many who are suffering from period poverty.
Organisations such as The Homeless Period Ireland are campaigning for more action, such as providing products in schools and colleges, while also helping to distribute period products to women who need them. The pandemic has made it harder for them to receive donations of products, but you can buy products to give to them online here, or learn more about what the organisation does on their facebook page.
Featured image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels
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