Students at schools, colleges and universities across Scotland will have access to free sanitary products as part of a £5.2m scheme to fight period poverty.
The Scottish government is the first in the world to make sanitary products available free to all of its 395,000 pupils and students to help “banish the scourge of period poverty” – when girls and women struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis, significantly affecting their hygiene, health and wellbeing.
A recent survey of more than 2,000 people by Young Scot found that one in four respondents at school, college or university in Scotland struggled to access sanitary products. Moreover, research by the grassroots group Women for Independence revealed nearly one in five women had experienced period poverty.
The Scottish government said it worked closely with partners including the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council on the scheme.
The communities secretary, Aileen Campbell, said: “In a country as rich as Scotland it’s unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products.
“I am proud that Scotland is taking this world-leading action to fight period poverty and I welcome the support of local authorities, colleges and universities in implementing this initiative.
“Our £5.2m investment will mean these essential products will be available to those who need them in a sensitive and dignified way, which will make it easier for students to full focus on their studies.”
Councillor Alison Evison, the president of Cosla, said while the primary aim of the scheme was to ensure no young person missed out on their education through a lack of access to sanitary products, “it will also contribute to a more open conversation and reducing the unnecessary stigma associated with periods”.
Hey Girls, an East Lothian-based social enterprise company set up to tackle period poverty, will be a major provider in the initiative. The company, which launched in January this year, is supplying sanitary products directly to a number of local authorities including the City of Edinburgh council, Glasgow city council, South Lanarkshire council, West Lothian counci and Stirling council, as well as Glasgow Caledonian University.
It is also the main provider of menstrual products to Fareshare, which will distribute them to communities across Scotland.
Celia Hodson, the founder of Hey Girls, said the move marked “a real milestone in the fight against period poverty”.
The Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who is bringing forward a member’s bill to create a statutory duty for free provision of period products, added: “This is another great step forward in the campaign against period poverty. Access to period products should be a right, regardless of your income, which is why I am moving ahead with plans for legislation to introduce a universal system of free access to period products for everyone in Scotland.
“No one should face the indignity of being unable to access these essential products to manage their period.”
Last week, it was announced that North Ayrshire council would provide free sanitary products in all public buildings.
This content was originally published here.