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Girls & Women

The Scottish Government Just Rejected a Bill That Would Guarantee Free Period Products


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, and waste management. Every day, girls and women around the world miss school or work because they're unable to manage their periods. To end poverty we must pass legislation that breaks harmful taboos about menstruation, provide education, and promote safe sanitation. You can join us and take action on this issue here.

The Scottish government rejected a bill guaranteeing universal free period products on Thursday, according to the BBC.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon introduced the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill to legally make period products available to students and anyone who needs them through a government supported “period products scheme” on April 23, but has not received much support. 

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell told Scottish parliament the bill was unnecessary. Women’s rights advocates are urging the Scottish government to reconsider.

Campbell said the legislation is not needed because the government is already taking “significant and world-leading” action, according to the Press and Journal. Scotland became the first country to invest in free products for all students in August 2018, but did not mandate the resources be provided by law. 

The new bill would cost more than £24 million (around $31 million) a year, Campbell said. The Scottish government also provides £2.8m (around $3.6 million) of funding for “hundreds of community groups” for free products, she added. 

The Scottish government fears new legislation would cause people to only meet minimum standards to deliver period products, according to Campbell. 

Read More: Period Poverty: Everything You Need to Know

Lennon argues the funding is not enough and said it was “deeply disappointing” that the government refuses to support the bill. 

"Many women and girls are still being referred to food banks and charities to get the period products they need despite the welcome action from the Scottish government to introduce free provision in schools and other community settings,” Lennon said, according to the BBC.

Plan International UK found 1 in 10 girls in the UK can’t afford to buy menstrual products, and 49% have missed an entire day of school because of their period. 

The new law would help end stigma around menstruation and create economic benefits, according to a statement released to the BBC by the volunteer organization Girlguiding Scotland. 

"Creating a legal right to access period products is vital to ensure the progress already made in this area is built upon and that future governments cannot undo the welcome work that has already been undertaken,” the organization said.