Scotland just made history by becoming the first country in the world which will ensure free access to sanitary pads and tampons, as the legislation was approved in its first stage with 112 votes in favor, none against, and one in abstention. The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill will now move on the second stage where the Scottish parliament will be allowed to suggest amendments. In 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free tampons and sanitary pads in schools and universities.
The bill was first put forward by Monica Lennon, a Scottish Labour Party politician, who said that this was a ‘milestone moment for normalizing menstruation in Scotland and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality.’
The new plan will cost an estimated $31.2 million. Tampons and sanitary napkins will be available at designated public places like community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies. Once the legislation becomes the law, it will take a year for the scheme to be operational. When it is operational, the Scottish government will be bound by law to provide free sanitary pads and tampons to anyone who needs it.
The European Union has pledged that it will remove all sales tax requirements on period products from 2022, and then ever member country will be able to decide what tax they would like to impose on it. In India in 2017 when the Goods and Services Tax was introduced, sanitary pads were taxed at 12 percent, which triggered widespread protests, following which they became completely tax free.