The law now requires all period products to be free for ‘anyone who needs them’
Period products, including tampons and sanitary pads, will now be free in Scotland for “anyone who needs them” and will be distributed through councils and education providers as a part of the Period Products Act.
The legislation, which was approved by Scotland’s parliament in 2020, was introduced by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who has been working on the bill since 2016. “Local authorities and partner organizations have worked hard to make the legal right to access free period products a reality,” she said of its approval. “Proud of what we have achieved in Scotland. We are the first but won’t be the last.”
1. Scotland has become the first country in the world to make period products free for all.— BFM News (@NewsBFM) August 16, 2022
The new legislation came into force on August 15.
The Period Products Act means period products will be available in public buildings including schools and universities across Scotland. pic.twitter.com/dTQ9fiFcfe
“Providing access to free period products is fundamental to equality and dignity, and removes the financial barriers to accessing them,” said Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison in a statement, emphasizing it’s “more important than ever,” as the cost of living is skyrocketing in so many areas.
“The work we are doing in Scotland continues to be world-leading, going beyond provision of free products,” she continued. “We have also provided funding for an educational website for employers, run a successful anti-stigma campaign, and improved menstrual health resources available for schools.”
Today the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 comes into effect.— Scottish Government (@scotgov) August 15, 2022
ℹ️ This means local authorities and education providers have a legal duty to make free period products available to anyone who needs them.
What we're doing to support ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/qcIi0alsdl
Scotland is the first country to give menstrual products free of charge nationally in pharmacies and stores. New Zealand and Kenya already distribute products for free in public schools.
Menstrual products aren’t cheap. In the U.S., a box of tampons or pads costs between $7 to $10. Recently, even finding products has been challenging with supply chain issues, which have driven up prices even further. Currently, about 14% of American college students struggle to pay for menstrual products, and that percentage is higher among Black and Latina women, according to a recent study by George Mason University.
“Imagine trying to take a math test being so scared that you’re going to have an accident,” said Dr. Shelby Davies at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in an interview with NPR last year. “Like, how do you focus on that?”
Here’s hoping more countries will follow suit and emulate the dedication of lawmakers in Scotland to get this pushed through. It goes without saying that if there were products necessary for men’s monthly health, they would have been free for centuries.