The Scottish parliament approved plans to make feminine hygiene products completely free to the public. If the plan is seen through, Scotland will become the first country in the world to boast such a program. This legislation will make sanitary pads and tampons available for free at designated public areas. Participating pharmacies, community centers, and youth clubs will dispense these products completely free of charge to anyone who is in need of them.
The bill voted into place is aimed at combating what is being called “period poverty”.
This poverty is defined as women and girls who cannot afford feminine hygiene products due to the average £8 ($9) per month burden it puts on families in need.
A high school student in Glasgow has told BBC Scotland that this expense has resulted in some girls using tissues or socks to remedy their natural monthly cycles.
A recent study conducted by Young Scot has found that 26% of its respondents currently enrolled in schooling have struggled to purchase sanitary products in the last year.
Of the respondents not in school, 24% answered the same.
This means that roughly one in eight young women living in Scotland are financially burdened by keeping up with standard hygiene practice.
The proposed law was passed 112 – 0 with one abstention in its first phase of the bill.
The bill will now move onto its second and final phase where amendments may be proposed.
Currently, the Scottish parliament is allocating 5.2 million euros ($5.8m USD) in funding to support this bill.
“Another £4m was made available to councils so the roll-out could be expanded to other public places, and another £50,000 for free provision in sports clubs.” as reported by BBC Scotland.
This bill has been put into action in response to the ongoing period poverty protests, #FreePeriods, occurring in the nation.
The European Union had previously introduced a 10% “tampon tax” on feminine hygiene products in 1973.
The tax peaked in 1991 at 17.5% and currently stands at 5% today.
This tax was implemented due to the EU ruling tampons as a “luxury item”.
Having this tax in place has only exacerbated the period poverty issue.
Scottish parliament is finally seeking to remedy the situation since Brexit.
There is clearly an issue at hand and Scotland is leading the world on how to solve it. Scotland has already been providing free tampons, pads, and some other products at school and university bathrooms since 2018. This bill is looking to greatly expand the program for the greater of their population. The proposed bill is projected to cost the government about £24 million annually, or about $27 million USD, to sustain.