Free sanitary products pilot to be rolled out across Scotland
A scheme to provide free sanitary products to women from low-income households is to be rolled out across Scotland, the Scottish Government has announced.
It is hoped 18,800 more women will be able to access free sanitary products as a result of an £500,000 investment.
The idea was piloted in Aberdeen and distributed by the charity FareShare, best known for its work on redistributing surplus food. Its distribution centres in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh will now also supply sanitary products to various charities across Scotland.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “The pilot in Aberdeen helped us to understand the barriers that some people face when it comes to accessing sanitary products and I’d like to thank Community Food Initiatives North East for their help and work on this.
“In total 1,082 people women and girls took part and helped us identify ways that we could make free products easily accessible to those who need them.
“It is unacceptable that anyone in Scotland should be unable to access sanitary products and I am pleased that we are able to work with FareShare to make products available more widely through the services delivered by their partners.”
The move was welcomed by period poverty campaigners Gillian Martin and Monica Lennon, with Lennon having lodged a member’s bill to introduce universal provision of the products.
SNP MSP Martin described it as a “watershed moment” for the campaign.
“As a member of Women for Independence and as an MSP, I have been a longstanding campaigner to end period poverty and I am delighted that the Scottish Government is supporting this cause with over half a million pounds support for women and girls across the country who struggle to afford sanitary products, which should be a basic right,” she said.
Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon said: “This is a welcome step to support people in crisis. Food banks rely on the generosity of the public and this support from the Scottish Government will help increase access to sanitary products.
“But women shouldn’t have to turn to charity for sanitary products. It is time for a universal system and my consultation shows 90 per cent of people agree.
“That’s why I am seeking to change the law to ensure free provision in schools, colleges and universities as well as placing a duty on the Scottish Government to deliver a free universal system of access.”