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Period products including tampons and sanitary pads are now free in Scotland for anyone who needs them.
Starting this week, menstrual products will be available in places like pharmacies and community centers, thanks to legislation approved by Scotland’s parliament in 2020.
“Giving access to free-term products is fundamental to equality and dignity, and removes financial barriers to access.” Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said in a statementCalling the move “more important than ever” in an era of rising cost of living.
“In Scotland we are proud of what we have achieved. We are the first but will not be the last.” Scottish Member of Parliament Monica Lennon saidwho started proposing in 2016.
In recent years there has been increased awareness of how access to term products can affect education and economic stability for those who need them.
Scotland is the first country to offer free period products nationally. Others, including New Zealand and Kenya, distribute the product to public schools for free.
In the US, a package of tampons or menstrual pads costs about $7 to $10 for a supply lasting one or two months. (Other products are designed to be reused, such as period underwear or menstrual cups, and have a higher upfront cost.) Supply chain disruptions have impacted availability and increased costs,
About 14% of American college students struggle to purchase period products, a number higher among Black and Latina women, according to A recent study by George Mason University, And those who regularly struggled to afford them were more likely to experience depression, the researchers found.
Women who struggle to meet basic necessities may choose to forgo the cost of a box of tampons, turning to toilet paper or socks instead. A survey of low-income women in St. Louis Published in 2019 found that nearly half reported choosing between food and menstrual products at some point during the year. Assistance programs such as Snap and WIC generally do not cover the cost of term products.
Research has shown that lack of access to period products can cause women and girls to miss school or work.
“Imagine trying to take a math test is so intimidating that you could be in an accident,” said Dr. Shelby Davis at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Speaking in an interview with NPR last year, “Like, how do you focus on that?”
Toilet paper and soap are provided for free in public restrooms, advocates say, so why not period products?
In the US, some states have passed legislation requiring public K-12 schools to provide free term products, including New York, Virginia, and Oregon. About a dozen states have exempted period products from sales tax.
At the federal level, New York Representative Grace Meng, a Democrat, Law introduced last year As well as providing grants and other assistance to improve access in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, public federal buildings and incarceration facilities, Medicaid will be required to cover term products. The bill remains in committee.