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by Jenni Davidson
27 September 2016
MSPs to debate access to sanitary products

MSPs to debate access to sanitary products

Labour MSP Monica Lennon - Image credit: Scottish Parliament

MSP will debate a lack of access to feminine hygiene products for women and girls in poverty in the Scottish Parliament today.

Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon, has called for the Scottish Government to carry out a study into the cost for those on low incomes. 

Lennon's motion, which has cross-party support, notes the health implications for women and girls who can’t always afford sanitary products.

Research has shown that the average woman uses around 12,000 feminine hygiene products in their lifetime and failing to change them regularly has been linked to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome.

Lennon previously raised the issue with Health Secretary Shona Robison, asking if the Scottish Government had looked into the costs.

Robison answered: “The Scottish Government has done no specific work to assess the costs of periods to women and girls.

“However there are undoubtedly genuine costs for women and girls associated with feminine hygiene and over an entire lifetime these could be significant.”

Robison added that the Scottish Government had no plans to offer free sanitary products, but had funded a range of other services to support people on low income or facing an acute income crisis

Lennon said: “To remain healthy and safe during menstruation, women and girls need adequate access to tampons, sanitary towels and related products but it is an uncomfortable truth that not every woman and girl in Scotland can afford to buy essential feminine hygiene products when they need them.

“In private conversations with volunteers at foodbanks, local churches and teachers in communities across Lanarkshire and Falkirk in the Central Scotland region I represent, I have become convinced this is a national issue and one a decent and fair-minded Scottish society cannot ignore.

“My discussions with organisations such as Engender, Barnardo’s Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid and the Trussell Trust confirms that work has to be done to look at the cost of periods to women and girls and the impact lack of access has on their health.

“Now that my parliamentary motion has won cross-party support and will be debated in Parliament I hope that the SNP government will agree carry out a study which looks at the burden of the cost of feminine hygiene products on women and girls in Scotland so that we can begin to understand what can be done to improve the situation.” 

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