The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, which became an Act on 12 January 2020, is the brainchild of Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labor MP, who had it pass unanimously back in November 2020.
She had stated back then that "Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history, but we have the chance to be the first."
The Issue of Access
The lack of access to menstrual products is one that has been affecting young girls across the world for years. Across the United States, WBUR, a public radio station, reported that those who menstruate pay upwards of $150 million in sales taxes alone for hygiene products like tampons.
With respect to the UK, a recent survey by Plan International UK cited that "nearly two million girls (64 percent) aged 14-21 in the UK have missed a part day or full day of school because of their period, with 13 percent of girls missing an entire school day at least once a month."
As for Scotland specifically, Young Scot's research demonstrated that approximately 25 percent of women in Scotland's schools struggled to find products like pads and tampons. As a result, many turn to unsafe products which also have health risks of their own.
The issue, however, stretches further. Beyond just being able to access products in the first place, the stigma that surrounds the menstrual cycle is one that has left many teens self-conscious, uneasy, and humiliated.
What Exactly is Outlined in the Legislation?
In short, all local officials and education providers (for example, colleges) are mandated by law to provide free period products. All public places like pharmacies and youth centres will also have these products available. The bill is slated to cost taxpayers approximately $32 million USD (24 million pounds), according to Reuters.
The bill also provides further funding for schools to provide better mental health products, an educational website for all employers, and a campaign designed to reduce the negative stigma surrounding menstruation.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, voiced her support for the bill as well, had dubbed it "an important policy for women and girls," when it was first passed.
(With inputs from Reuters and the BBC.)