MSP to take battle to end period poverty to Holyrood

Scottish Labour inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon to launch member’s bill over the next few months to tackle “period poverty” in  Scotland. 

A SCOTTISH LABOUR MSP is planning to bring forward a bill that will tackle “period poverty” across the country.

Monica Lennon will launch a private member's bill over the next few months to help women and girls who cannot access or afford sanitary products.

The Scottish Labour inequalities spokesperson said: “Bringing forward this member’s bill has the potential to help thousands of women currently living in period poverty.

“Whereas other items such as toilet paper, hand wash and even paper towels can be found in most public bathrooms for free, no such provision exists when it comes to sanitary products – and that should change.”

“Whereas other items such as toilet paper, hand wash and even paper towels can be found in most public bathrooms for free, no such provision exists when it comes to sanitary products – and that should change.” Monica Lennon

Women and girls may find it difficult to access or afford sanitary products for a variety of reasons, including welfare sanctions, homelessness or health conditions.

In some cases, women and girls have turned to food banks to get access to an emergency supply of sanitary products.

The Central Scotland MSP added: “Scotland has a chance to lead on this important issue and I want to encourage all women and girls to give their views in the upcoming consultation.

“I’ve persistently raised the issue of access to sanitary products with the Scottish Government over the past few months. SNP ministers should be tackling this inequality rather than simply pointing women to foodbanks.

“We are also actively considering what other support the Scottish Government can provide for women and girls on a low income to have access to sanitary products in dignified settings.” Public Health minister, Aileen Campbell

“That's why I'll be bringing forward proposals to ensure that women and girls in Scotland have the right to access sanitary products when they need them.

“No one should face a financial burden to look after their essential health.”

Scottish Government Public Health minister Aileen Campbell said: “I am keen to explore what more can be done to tackle the issue of access to sanitary products, within the limitations of the current powers of the Scottish Parliament, to help improve the lives of girls and women in our country.

“We are also actively considering what other support the Scottish Government can provide for women and girls on a low income to have access to sanitary products in dignified settings.

“We’ve made significant investments in a range of services to support people on low income or facing acute income crisis and tackle the underlying causes of poverty.

“Lack of access to the period products a woman needs is one feature of that inequality, which manifests as poverty of time, of money, of safety, and of power. “ Dr Marsha Scott

“The Scottish Government supports the Scottish Welfare Fund which provides a safety net for vulnerable people on low incomes through the provision of community care grants and crisis grants.

“We are also taking action in a range of areas, including investing in affordable housing, increasing childcare, demonstrating our commitment to a real Living Wage, and spending £100m a year mitigating against the worst of UK Government welfare changes.”

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The women and girls of Scotland experience that inequality every day. 

“Lack of access to the period products a woman needs is one feature of that inequality, which manifests as poverty of time, of money, of safety, and of power. 

Read more – Labour MSP: Period poverty could put women's lives at risk

“This lack of access (for poor women and for some women experiencing domestic abuse who may or may not be poor) has long remained in the shadows because of sexist attitudes about women’s bodies and the stigma attached to menstruation.  

“Hurrah that women across politics have taken up this cause, and Scottish Women’s Aid especially welcomes Monica Lennon’s activism and member’s bill on period poverty. 

“Let’s change this archaic form of discrimination and make access to necessities readily and affordably available for all women.”

UPDATE: Spokeswoman from Engender said: “Women and girls in Scotland should not be prevented from participating in public life because of their periods, but we’re not surprised that people are finding the costs of sanitary protection prohibitive.

“Menstruation is painful, inconvenient, expensive, and still remains hugely stigmatised in society.

“Any move to challenge this is welcome, and we’re really pleased to see Monica Lennon continuing to take the lead on pushing to break down barriers to women’s equality.“

Picture courtesy of 小草

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