Scotland is making period products free for students, and here’s why that’s a big deal

We’ve long been proponents of equal access to menstruation sanitary products and the fight against the “period tax.” Now, Scotland is about to become the first country in the world to take a major stand by giving period products to students at all schools, colleges, and universities—for free.

The new $6 million policy, first announced on August 24th, is intended to promote equal access to sanitary products and help prevent disruption in education. According to The Guardian, a recent study conducted by an organization called Young Scot found that 25% of respondents struggle to pay for sanitary products. For Scotland’s nearly 400,000 school-aged women, these instances of “period poverty” contribute to missed classes and challenges at school.

“In a country as rich as Scotland it’s unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary product,” said communications secretary Aileen Campbell, The Guardian reports. “I am proud that Scotland is taking this world-leading action to fight period poverty. I welcome the support of local authorities, colleges and universities in implementing this initiative.”

Young women around the world continue to experience schooling interruptions and financial difficulty due to lack of access to sanitary products.

In the U.S., 20% of women age 16-24 have skipped school or left early due to lack of access to sanitary products, according to a report by Always. Meanwhile, in some countries like Ghana and India, many young women opt to drop out altogether. In 2015, this prompted the Indian government to launch its National Guidelines on Menstrual Hygiene Management Plan. The effort supports more than 100 million adolescent girls nearing their first period.

Scotland’s policy also aims to destigmatize menstruation, which is still taboo in many cultures.

Moving forward, the country is pushing to make tampons and pads free to every woman, not just students. The Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said she is introducing a bill to increase accessibility.

"This is another great step forward in the campaign against period poverty. Access to period products should be a right, regardless of your income," Lennon said, The Guardian reports. "No one should face the indignity of being unable to access these essential products to manage their period."

We wholeheartedly agree and we hope more countries follow suit. Bravo, Scotland.

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