Scotland can be 'world leader' in tackling period poverty

24 April 2019, 07:19

Calendar with sanitary products on it

Legislation to enable all women in Scotland to have access to free sanitary products has been formally lodged at Holyrood.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said the proposals in her Member's Bill would make the country a "world leader" in tackling the problem of period poverty.

It sets out plans for a universal system of free access to period products and would make it a statutory requirement for schools, colleges and universities to provide such items.

The Scottish Government increased funding for this in January, with £4 million set aside to boost provision in libraries, leisure centres and other public buildings.

That followed on from the the rollout of a scheme offering free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities in August 2018.

Since then a number of other sites, such as railway stations, football stadiums and shopping centres, have also introduced similar schemes.

Ms Lennon, Labour's health spokeswoman, is calling on MSPs from all parties to back her Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.

She said: "Scotland has a chance to be a world leader by passing my Member's Bill and creating a universal system of free access to period products.

"Across the UK, grass roots 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."

She added: "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."

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."