In a landmark move, the Scottish parliament unanimously passed the Period Products Bill on November 24, making Scotland world’s first country to provide free and universal access to sanitary products for women of all age groups.
Under the Period Products Bill, sanitary products will be available to access in public buildings including schools and universities across Scotland. However, it will be up to local authorities and education providers to ensure the products are available free of cost.
"We all agree that no one should have to worry where their next tampon pads or reusable is coming from," Monica Lennon, the MSP who introduced the bill, before the Edinburgh vote.
"Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history but we have the chance to be the first. This has been a long time coming," Lennon said.
Sanitary products are free for pupils and students in Scotland, but the bill now places a legal duty on ministers to set up a country-wide scheme to ensure anyone can get access to them.
Schools, colleges and universities must also make a range of period products available for free in their toilets.
Lennon said that while the legislation was "world-leading", schools should also offer education to pupils to end the stigma of periods.
Aileen Campbell, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said the bill sent an "important message about the kind of country we want Scotland to be.
"That is a gender-equal Scotland, where no one has to go through the indignity of using unsuitable materials to mask their periods or stretch household budgets further to buy products for their children, or miss out on education — a Scotland where no one has to hide a tampon up their sleeve," she said.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took to Twitter to welcome the decision and called it "groundbreaking legislation" and "an important policy for women and girls."
Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them. An important policy for women and girls. Well done to @MonicaLennon7 @ClydesdAileen and all who worked to make it happen https://t.co/4lckZ4ZYIY
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 24, 2020
With inputs from AFP