Period Dignity

PP Grassroots

In July 2016 Monica Lennon – then a new MSP – lodged a Parliamentary Motion asking the Scottish Government what action it was taking to tackle the cost of periods and whether it had plans to introduce free access to menstrual products.

This was in direct response to findings that those on low incomes could not afford or access suitable period products. By 2018, a Young Scot survey found that 1 in 4 respondents in school or further education had struggled with access to period products. The stigma around these products was also creating a sense of embarrassment for young girls when buying these products.

 

So began a four-year long campaign to address the problem of individuals struggling to afford or access period products. This led to a growing list of organisations and supporters spanning the political divide backing Monica to help secure a parliamentary debate in September 2016 – a breakthrough moment and the first time the Scottish Parliament had ever debated anything remotely linked to menstruation.

Working with councils, educators, trade unions and activists all over Scotland, Monica helped make tampons, pads and reusables as common as toilet paper in schools, colleges and universities; but there was no guarantee that these initiatives would continue long-term. Legislation was necessary to lock-in the good policy schemes on a permanent basis.

The Scottish Parliament unanimously voted for Monica’s member’s bill on 24th November 2020– making Scotland the first country in the world to ever introduce universal free access to period products for anyone who needs them.

 

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On 15 August 2022, the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act came into force. Now all local authorities in Scotland have a legal duty to make period products available for whoever needs them.

Scotland is the first country in the world to provide free period products for all, but the campaign for period dignity and equity continues.

The impact of this bill has been far reaching. Outlets across the world remarked on how ground-breaking the Period Products Bill was:

“Lennon hopes that Scotland’s Period Product’s Act serves as a “beacon of hope” to others around the world” – Time Magazine

“Scotland becomes the first country to provide free period products for all” - Vogue

“Scotland is first to establish free access to sanitary products” – Wall Street Journal

“Scotland is the first country to pass legislation for free period products in public buildings” – Washington Examiner

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"As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, the Period Products Act is a beacon of hope which shows what can be achieved when politicians come together for the good of the people we serve." - BBC

Monica continues to campaign in Scotland, the UK and globally, engaging with schools, colleges, universities, and other responsible bodies on how free period product schemes are working in practice, and how they can be improved. The Act has inspired action around the world and Monica will continue to advocate and encourage other countries to promote period equity for all.

To find out more visit PeriodPovertyScotland.