Sturgeon: Sanitary products during menstruation are not a luxury but a necessity

Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon, asked Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister’s Questions whether access to sanitary products should be legislated

SCOTLAND’S FIRST MINISTER has confirmed that sanitary products during a woman’s period “are not a luxury but a necessity”.

Nicola Sturgeon was urged to bring in legislation to outlaw “period poverty” in Scotland by Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon at First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

CommonSpace understands that Lennon is planning to introduce a Member’s Bill before the end of May to the Scottish Parliament aimed at helping women and girls who cannot afford or access sanitary products.

Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson asked the first minster: “No woman or girl in 2017 should face the indignity of not having access to sanitary products during menstruation.

“Does the first minister agree with me that sanitary products are a necessity, not a luxury and that the Scottish Parliament should, accordingly, take all necessary action to enshrine that right of access into law?” Monica Lennon

“There is simply no excuse why that should be the case in a progressive, wealthy country such as Scotland. Does the first minister agree with me that sanitary products are a necessity, not a luxury and that the Scottish Parliament should, accordingly, take all necessary action to enshrine that right of access into law?”

Sturgeon responded: “I agree with Monica Lennon. Any woman—and, I hope, a lot of men—would agree that sanitary products are not a luxury but a necessity.

“We should not have a situation in which women are forced into situations of indignity because they are on incomes that cannot support the purchase of the products.”

Sturgeon went on to acknowledge that the Scottish Government – led by communities minister Angela Constance – is exploring a number of ways it can help in tackling period poverty.

“I agree with Monica Lennon. Any woman—and, I hope, a lot of men—would agree that sanitary products are not a luxury but a necessity.” Nicola Sturgeon

One of the options that Constance is exploring is the introduction of ‘S-card’ for sanitary products. The ‘S-Card’ would be similar to the C-card for free condoms.

The idea was first proposed by SNP MSPs Gillian Martin at the SNP National Council last year, who welcomed the input made by Constance into the issue “as it is clear that access to period products is not simply a women’s issue, but a human rights issue”.

Lennon has been championing the issue of access to sanitary products for women and girls during menstruation since she got elected to Holyrood last year, which led to a cross-party debate on the issue last September at the Scottish Parliament.

Last week, the STUC passed a motion at its annual conference in support of Lennon’s campaign.

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

Lennon said: “I’m pleased that the first minister has given support to the aims of my proposed Member’s Bill on access to sanitary products, on which I will soon be launching my consultation.

“Access to sanitary products for women and girls who are menstruating is absolutely a necessity, not a luxury, and it is welcome to have agreement from the Scottish Government on this.

“I look forward to taking action over the coming months which will improve access to sanitary products and hope to hear the views from as many people as possible when the consultation on my Bill is launched. Anyone who wants to find out how they can help make real change on this issue should visit www.periodpoverty.scot for more information on the campaign.”

Picture courtsey of Scottish Parliament TV

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