'World leading' legislation to end period poverty lodged at Holyrood

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon has lodged her Private Members Bill to end Period Poverty across Scotland

  • New law will make it a legal requirement for schools, colleges and universities to provide free sanitary products
  • The bid to change the law came about after a series of grassroots campaigns that ensured that free period products can be accessed from public places such as train stations and football stadiums
  • The Scottish Government has pledged more than  £9 million to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities and other public places across Scotland 

SCOTLAND HAS a chance to be a “world leader” with new legislation that will ensure free universal access to period products, an MSP who has lodged a Private Member’s Bill at the Scottish Parliament today [24 April] has claimed.

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon MSP has lodged the bill, which would make it a legal requirement for schools, colleges and universities to provide free products.   

The bid to change the law is the latest step after a series of successful grassroots campaigns to ensure that members of the public can get free access to sanitary products at a range of public places across the UK. 

Lennon, who is the party’s health spokesperson, said that Scotland has a chance to be a “world leader” in passing her bill and create free universal access to sanitary products.  

READ MORE: Celtic's on the ball: Club becomes first in UK to provide free sanitary products

Lennon said: “Across the UK grassroots campaigners have already delivered significant change on period poverty, it’s now time for Scotland to put access on a legal footing, lead the rest of the UK and the world. 

“Access to period products should be a basic right, but sadly in Scotland, we know not everyone can afford or obtain what they need. This law would be a step towards a fairer, more equitable society for us all to live in.”

Equality Network, Scottish Trans Alliance and Engender have both come out in support of the bill.

A spokesperson from Engender said: “Period Poverty is a major issue in Scotland which prevents women and girls from learning, working and participating in other aspects of their daily lives because they cannot access the period products they need. Free, universal products will also go a long way to challenging the stigma associated with periods, that isolates women and girls in pain and discomfort.”

READ MORE: STUC youth conference calls for action to end period poverty to be ramped up

A range of public places, including train stations and football stadiums, were part of a successful grassroots campaign that allowed women to access to free sanitary products. 

In December 2017, Network Rail revealed a plan to provide free sanitary products at both Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley train stations after a plea from Lennon.

Lennon wrote to Alex Hynes, the managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, after it emerged that Edinburgh Waverley charged three pounds for a packet of four tampons, while at Glasgow Central, they do not provide any access to period products.

Last August, Celtic became the first football club in the UK to offer free sanitary products inside Celtic Park after a successful campaign by fans.

Celtic fans Erin Slaven, Orlaith Duffy and Mikaela McKinley, ran a successful campaign to have all the female toilets inside Celtic Park to have free products for its female supporters.

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

Other football clubs across the UK that have pledged to provide free sanitary to its female fans include Liverpool, Manchester City and Rangers.

Last autumn, the Scottish Government made sanitary products free in schools, colleges and universities at a cost of just over £5 million.

The policy was extended in January when the Scottish Government committed another £4 million to make free sanitary products available in more public places, such as libraries and leisure centres.

It follows a successful six month pilot in Aberdeen where they provided free sanitary products to women who are living in low-income households.

READ MORE: Labour pledges to introduce free sanitary products in fight against period poverty

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “It is unacceptable for anyone to be unable to access sanitary products which is why free sanitary products are now available in schools, colleges, universities and across a range of public spaces.

“We have taken world-leading steps on this issue working in partnership with others and with funding this year set to reach £9 million.

“We will, of course, consider Ms Lennon’s Bill when it is published.”

Picture courtesy of 小草

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