Scotland is on the brink of making history by being the first country in the world to end “period poverty,” or the inability for people to obtain menstrual hygiene products due to financial hardship. On Tuesday, February 25, the Scottish Parliament approved legislation to make pads and tampons available without charge to anyone who needs them. These products would be stocked in public places and ready for pick-up at community centers, pharmacies, and youth clubs.
Called the Period Products (Free Provision), the bill passed through the first stage with 112 votes in favor, none against, and one abstention. It will now move to the second stage where legislators can propose amendments to it. The provision would cost an estimated $31.2 million annually.
In the United Kingdom, 10% of girls are unable to afford sanitary products. This is according to a study completed by Plan International, an independent development and humanitarian organization. Not having proper access to menstrual products each month can pose physical risks while being detrimental to everyday life. Physically, this includes susceptibility to urinary tract infections. From a social standpoint, it can keep people from leaving their homes and attending places as important as school.
Scotland has already made headway in ending period poverty. In 2018, they began offering free sanitary products to students at schools and colleges.