Women for Independence launches national survey on women's access to sanitary products

Women for Independence survey will gather women's views on accessing sanitary products 

A PRO-INDEPENDENCE women’s group has launched a national campaign that is aimed at getting women’s views on accessing period products.

Women for Independence (WFI) is conducting a national survey in which it seeks to understand the different experiences that women face in order to gather an evidence-based picture of access to period products.

All women have been encouraged to get on board and support #FreePeriodScotland, and organisers hope that making a positive impact will push the issue up the agenda.

The survey was created by WFI national committee member Victoria Heaney, who said: “Women for Independence/Independence for Women wishes to campaign on this issue, to ensure this promise becomes a universal service for all women in Scotland.

“We at [Women for Independence] firmly believe that access to period products is a human rights issue.” Victoria Heaney

“Discussions around women’s rights and issues are usually framed around common themes such as childbirth, sexuality, contraception and abortion.

“We at WFI firmly believe that access to period products is a human rights issue.

“Menstrual stigma and not having access to period products creates a negative impact on health, well-being and the agency of women.”

Heaney added that it is only recently that the topic of women accessing period products has been covered in the political arena.

“We are exploring 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.” Scottish Government spokesperson

She said: “Thanks to the work of fellow WFI member, MSP Gillian Martin, and also MSP Monica Lennon, this issue has received national coverage.

“Whilst we at WFI welcome this positive step forward and are pleased to hear government minister Angela Constance MSP commit to investigating this issue further, we want to do more.

“By filling out and sharing the survey with those in your family, community and network, hopefully, we can work with other to help the #FreePeriodScotland campaign.”

Earlier this month, it was reported in the National that communities minister Angela Constance was exploring the introduction of an “S-card”, similar to the C-Card for free access to condoms.

"Women for Independence have always been active on doing important work in this area, and I asked for their help in doing this survey to collect important data and information.” Gillian Martin

The idea was initially put forward by SNP MSP Gillian Martin at last May’s SNP National Council, which overwhelmingly passed the proposal. 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are exploring 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.”

"The reaction to [the campaign on free sanitary products] has been very encouraging and I'm pleased to see Women for Independence put its weight behind it too. The rights of women and girls are at the heart of this campaign and all opportunities to hear their voices are valuable.” Monica Lennon MSP

Martin said: "I am pleased that the Scottish Government's equalities secretary, Angela Constance, is actively considering this issue, as it is clear that access to period products is not simply a women's issue, but a human rights issue.”

She added: "Women for Independence have always been active on doing important work in this area, and I asked for their help in doing this survey to collect important data and information. The results will help us all make further progress in order to keep this important subject in the public eye."

Last month, Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon took her campaign to end period poverty to Holyrood by launching a private members bill.

Lennon will bring forward the bill over the next few months, which she hopes will help women and girls who cannot access or afford sanitary products.

Read more – MSP takes battle to end period poverty to Holyrood 

Lennon said: “Menstruation puts a significant financial burden on women and girls and it's time this gendered inequality was consigned to history.

“Gaining cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament via my member's debate, where I've persistently challenged the Scottish Government to act on period poverty, led me to announce my intention to bring forward a member's bill on free sanitary products.”

Lennon added: “The reaction to this has been very encouraging and I'm pleased to see Women for Independence put its weight behind it too. The rights of women and girls are at the heart of this campaign and all opportunities to hear their voices are valuable.”

Anyone who wishes to take part in the survey can do so by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FreePeriodScotland

Picture courtesy of Women for Independence

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