Scotland has become the world’s first country to provide free and universal access to sanitary products for women of all age groups after the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed legislation on Tuesday. Under the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act, the Scottish government will introduce a nationwide program that will place a legal duty on all local authorities to make feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads freely available for those who need them.


The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill passed unanimously, and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon called it “an important policy for women and girls”.

Scottish Labour Member of Parliament Monica Lennon’s aim for the Bill is to tackle “period poverty”, which is when some people who need period products struggle to afford them. She sees these products as a basic necessity, and believes that providing access to them is important for people’s dignity. She supports what the Scottish Government has already done to provide free period products to those in need. She wants to go further by making this a legal requirement.

In 2018, Scotland became the first country to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities. The goal of the campaign is to eliminate “period poverty” by ensuring that everyone has access to basic sanitary products, according to Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, who introduced the bill in April, 2019.

Under the Bill:


    • the Scottish Government must set up a Scotland-wide scheme to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge


    • schools, colleges and universities must make a range of period products available for free, in their toilets


    • the Scottish Government will have the power to make other public bodies provide period products for free


As per a Nielsen Survey in 2010, 70 per cent of Indian women did not have access to sanitary pads. According to a survey conducted by Menstrual Health Alliance of India and WaterAid India, 62 percent of the respondents stated that they did not have access to menstrual hygiene products through regular outlets under the lockdown. To make it worse, 22 percent said they did not have access to sanitary products at all.


A report in Youth Ki Awaaz points out, “After the 12% GST has been removed, a pack of 10 sanitary napkins that costs an average of 100 rupees, will cost around 88 rupees. This might be a woman’s monthly expenditure on her menstruation needs. However, considering 70% (Census, 2011) of India’s population live in rural areas and depend on manual labour, 75% of whom survive on 33 rupees per day, the amount of 88 rupees for a packet of sanitary napkins remains very high.”



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