Scotland becomes first country to make period products free
Scotland will become the first nation in the world to provide period products free of charge to all who need them.
MSPs unanimously backed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday evening.
It places a statutory duty on local authorities to ensure tampons and sanitary pads are freely available.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who steered the bill through parliament, described the vote as “a landmark day”.
She said: “I am delighted that my bill has been passed by Parliament. This is a landmark day for Scotland and for everyone who has campaigned to end period poverty.
"Period products are essential, and now no one in Scotland will have to go without them.
"The Period Products Bill is proof that ambitious and progressive change can be achieved through grassroots activism and political collaboration. In Parliament, all parties found common cause to make this legislation a reality.”
According to research from Plan International UK, one in ten girls in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary items, while 12 per cent have had to improvise sanitary products due to affordability issues.
Councils will be expected to make arrangements for dispensing period products, making them “reasonably easy” to access. Schemes will need to be in place within two years of the legislation becoming law.
Several schools, universities and colleges already provide access to menstrual items.
Speaking in the final debate, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “The passage of the bill will send a very important message about the kind of country that we want Scotland to be.
“It is a gender-equal Scotland, in which no one has to go through the indignity of using unsuitable materials to manage their periods, or to go without products in order to stretch household budgets further to enable them to buy other items for their children, or to miss out on education.
“It is also one in which no one has to hide a tampon up their sleeve. We want to create a country in which everyone is able to participate in society and achieve their potential.”
The bill almost didn’t make it out of stage one, after the Local Government and Committee refused to support its general principles. It said the bill would be “subject to significant amendment at stage two” due to a lack of clarity on the rollout of a scheme and cost.
However, the SNP and Scottish Conservatives U-turned on their opposition to the bill ahead of the stage one debate, with the Scottish Government pledging to work with Lennon to resolve these issues.