Scotland Becomes the 1st Country to Make Period Products Free

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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.”

“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.”

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.

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