In a critical move towards greater financial equity between the genders, Scotland has set a first: this British Isle has passed legislation to provide free period products for anyone who needs them.
The move for universal access to the hygiene products comes after a four-year grassroots campaign that pushed to shift the public discourse surrounding menstruation, aunt flo, monthly bleed, Shark Week, or whatever else you may call That Time of the Month.
The Period Products (Free Provision)(Scotland) Act passed unanimously, recognized the legal duty held by local authorities to make period products universally accessible.
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Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, told the Guardian, “There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public… It has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.”
She added that the decision gives everyone a chance for period dignity.
The programme is estimated to cost about £8.7m a year, alleviating some of the financial burden disproportionately placed on women as a result of their periods.
To put that in perspective, in Canada, women are estimated to spend around $6,000 over the course of their lifetime on period products such as pads and tampons, giving birth to the term ‘Period Poverty’.
The Act will require schools, colleges, and universities to provide these products for free, as well as to deliver free period products to low-income households. Some local businesses in Scotland have already taken to providing these products for free at their own initiative.
Lennon shared that others across the world are following the progress in Scotland very closely. “It’s an important message in the middle of a global pandemic that we can still put the rights of women and girls high up on the political agenda,” she said.
Still left to tackle is the infamous pink tax – the extra money women spend on products such as razors, haircuts, clothes over the course of their lifetime.