Scotland 'Can Lead World In Tackling Period Poverty'

14 August 2017, 06:00

Calendar with sanitary products on it

Scotland is being urged to become a world leader in tackling period poverty by bringing in new legislation that would force ministers to ensure sanitary products are provided free for those who need them.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon is launching a consultation on a members' Bill aimed at ending the problem.

The legislation she is putting forward, if passed, would create a new duty on ministers to introduce a universal system of free provision of sanitary products.

In addition, schools, colleges and universities would be required to provide free items for women and girls in their toilets.

Under the proposals, that duty could be extended to other organisations at a later date, following a review.

Ms Lennon, Labour's inequalities spokeswoman at Holyrood, has been leading efforts to raise awareness of the problem of period poverty since she was elected as an MSP in 2016.

She said: "Scotland has the opportunity to be a world leader in ending period poverty. Access to sanitary products should be a basic right, but sadly in Scotland we know not everyone can afford or obtain what they need.

"That's why I intend to introduce a legal duty on the Scottish Government to develop a universal system in Scotland which will provide free sanitary products for anyone who needs them.

"My proposal also includes a statutory duty on schools, colleges and universities to provide free sanitary products in their toilets. Having your period shouldn't result in anyone missing class.

"This is a big step towards creating a fairer and more equal society and I hope to hear from people right across Scotland during the consultation."

In July, the Scottish Government announced a six-month pilot project, which will see free sanitary projects handed out to those in need in Aberdeen.

At least 1,000 women and girls from low-income homes should benefit from the trial, which ministers have supported with £42,500 of funding.