Scotland made history Tuesday by becoming the first country to make menstrual products free and easily accessible for anyone who needs them.
CNN reports the Scottish parliament has unanimously passed the Period Products Bill, which requires products like tampons and pads to be available in public facilities free of charge. According to government estimates, the legislation could cost about £8.7 million, or $11.6 million by 2022.
"The campaign has been backed by a wide coalition, including trades unions, women's organizations and charities," Monica Lennon, the bill's primary sponsor, said ahead of the vote. "Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history. [The bill] is a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved."
According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Plan International UK, about one in 10 girls in the UK could not afford menstrual products. Research published in May revealed that number has increased due to the coronavirus lockdowns, as three in 10 girls have trouble accessing or affording sanitary wear.
Per the Plan UK:
Of the 17% of girls who said they have been unable to or struggled to afford sanitary wear in lockdown:
- Over a third (37%) did not try to access any free sources of products
- Two fifths (42%) of those said they did not know where to go to get them
- A third (30%) felt too embarrassed to seek out a source of free products
- 30% did not know who to ask
In 2018, Scotland became the first country to make sanitary products free and easily available across its schools and universities. The measure aimed to "banish the scourge of period poverty."
"This is another great step forward in the campaign against period poverty," Lennon said at the time. "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."
You can read reactions to the bill's passage below.