"Periods don't stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables have never been more important."
Scotland made history on Tuesday by becoming the first country to introduce free universal access to menstrual products, including tampons and pads, in public facilities. The landmark victory for the global movement against period poverty came with the Scottish Parliament voting unanimously in favor of the Period Products bill, reports CNN. Monica Lennon, the lawmaker who introduced the bill last year, said that it was a "practical and progressive" piece of legislation, made increasingly necessary due to the negative impact the pandemic has had on access. "Periods don't stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables have never been more important," she told The Scotsman.
Tonight, we have made history.— Scottish Labour (@scottishlabour) November 24, 2020
Scotland will be the first country in the world to make access to free period products a legal right. pic.twitter.com/WGOQeiip0l
Thank you to everyone who has campaigned for period dignity and to my MSP colleagues for backing the Bill tonight.— Monica Lennon (@MonicaLennon7) November 24, 2020
A proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved. #freeperiodproducts 🏴 https://t.co/NC3e97jPuQ
Under the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, the Scottish government will create a nationwide program to make the products available to access in public buildings including schools and universities across the country for those who need them. "Schools, colleges, and universities must make a range of period products available for free, in their toilets" while the Scottish Government will have the power to make other public bodies provide period products for free. "The campaign has been backed by a wide coalition, including trade unions, women's organizations, and charities," said Lennon.
For women across Scotland, this is superb news.— Steph Brawn (@BrawnJourno) November 24, 2020
It will go such a long way to ending the unacceptable existence of period poverty.
But it will also be well-received by every woman across the country, for we have all known that dread when we’ve been “caught out”. Nice one MSPs 👏 https://t.co/cQSlHWKxhK
Speaking ahead of the vote, she expressed optimism that more countries would soon follow Scotland's example. "Free access to period products is already happening in many places in Scotland, but this legislation will embed the progress made so far and expand it further," she said. "Once access to period products is secured for all, our next steps must be ensuring women’s health, in general, remains high on the political agenda in Scotland and that we end all stigma around menstruation. This should start with menstrual wellbeing education in all schools."
Scotland has become the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all who need them, after Parliament voted unanimously to pass a landmark piece of legislation on Tuesday. https://t.co/Iz1jA66QN9— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 24, 2020
"Scotland is an example of best practice, and there is an opportunity for other countries around the world to learn from what we have achieved on period poverty in just a few short years," Lennon added. "Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first. This law will ensure no one has to go without essential period products. Thanks to a bold grassroots campaign and cross-party support, Scotland has already taken great strides to improve access to period products. Legislation is a world-leading opportunity to secure period dignity for all women, girls, and people who menstruate."
A lot of work, huge collaboration & a world first. Scotland has a Bill to be proud of that locks in the progress we have made to tackle period dignity. Congrats to @MonicaLennon7 for leading the Bill & to all the activists and others who’ve done so much to make it happen💪 https://t.co/Car97jfw0b— Aileen Campbell (@ClydesdAileen) November 24, 2020
The bill's accompanying financial memorandum estimates that it could cost around £8.7 million a year by 2022, depending on the number of individuals who take advantage of the free products. In a document supporting the legislation, Lennon said it was reasonable to expect a 20 percent uptake of the scheme since official inequality statistics show that nearly 20 percent of women in Scotland live in relative poverty. A number of equality and women's rights groups and politicians from across party lines praised the new law on social media, including Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who tweeted: "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."
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
Scotland's latest move follows a string of attempts to tackle period poverty in the country. In 2018, the Scottish government introduced a scheme that gave students at schools, colleges, and universities across the country access to free sanitary products through a £5.2 million investment. The following year, it allocated another £4 million to make period products available for free in libraries and recreational centers.