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Scotland becomes first nation in world to provide free period products

Women's sanitary products on sale at a small pharmacy in London, Friday, March, 18, 2016.
Women's sanitary products on sale at a small pharmacy in London, Friday, March, 18, 2016. Copyright AP Photo/Alastair Grant
Copyright AP Photo/Alastair Grant
By Lauren Chadwick
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The Scottish parliament unanimously passed legislation requiring the government to make period products available for free to those who cannot afford them.


Scotland became the first nation in the world to make menstruation products such as tampons and pads free for those who cannot afford them.

Members of the Scottish parliament unanimously passed legislation on Tuesday that forces the government to set up a scheme to provide the products and impose the requirement on other public institutions.

The law also says that schools, colleges and universities must make a range of period products available in their toilets for free. The Scottish government had already provided access in schools through funding from 2018.

Some local authorities in the nation also already provided free products, but it is now a legal requirement.

The legislation was developed to tackle "period poverty", which is when people struggle to afford period products they need.

Monica Lennon, the MSP who introduced the bill, hailed the achievement, stating: "we all agree that no one should have to worry about where their next tampon, pad or reusable is coming from."

She said that she did not give up during the pandemic and called it "a proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved."

Plan International UK hailed the passing of the legislation as a "historic vote".

"The new law will help to ensure that no girl or woman in Scotland struggles to afford period products," the children's rights and equality non-profit tweeted.

A 2017 survey from the organisation found that one in ten girls in the United Kingdom were unable to afford period products and one in seven have struggled to afford them.

England rolled out a period product scheme in January that gives access to products at all state-maintained schools in educational organisations.

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