Period poverty campaigners welcome Bill for free sanitary products

By Tom Eden, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland
Scottish Labour's Monica Lennon said access to tampons and sanitary towels should be a woman's 'basic right'.

Free access to sanitary products would make Scotland a “world leader” in tackling period poverty, Monica Lennon said after formally lodging her bid to change the law.

The Labour MSP has submitted legislation to the Scottish Parliament to make tampons and sanitary towels available in public places such as schools, colleges, train stations and football stadiums.

The shadow health secretary said access to the products should be a woman’s “basic right”.

Ms Lennon celebrated the submission of her Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill alongside other campaigners at an event by YWCA Scotland in Edinburgh, and said: “Introducing free universal access to period products will make Scotland a world leader.

“Period poverty shames our society and it is time we ended it once and for all.

“Across the UK, grassroots campaigners have already delivered significant change on period poverty, it’s now time for Scotland to put access on a legal footing, lead the rest of the UK and the world.

“Access to period products should be a basic right but sadly in Scotland we know not everyone can afford or obtain what they need. This law would transform the lives of women and girls across our country for generations to come.”

Jeanann Webster, from homeless charity Simon Community Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support the Bill as we know first-hand the unique challenges facing women who are homeless.

“Our Period Friendly volunteer initiative was created from their stories of unimaginable adversity.

“Through these stories, we have built our Period Friendly programme, empowering women to volunteer and offering free and easily accessible sanitary products, advice and support to vulnerable women of all ages.”

A scheme offering free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities was introduced last August, with the Scottish Government increasing funding to £4 million in January to extend provision in libraries, leisure centres and other public buildings.

Alison Evison, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said of the proposed law change: “This is about the dignity of all women and girls and about fairness, but it is also about far more than that, as it is a step towards removing the barriers that prevent women and girls from taking up opportunities and playing a full part in our communities, in our education system and in workplaces.”

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “It is unacceptable for anyone to be unable to access sanitary products, which is why free sanitary products are now available in schools, colleges, universities and across a range of public spaces.

“We have taken world-leading steps on this issue working in partnership with others and with funding this year set to reach £9 million.

“We will of course consider Ms Lennon’s Bill when it is published.”