The Scottish parliament approved a bill on Tuesday making sanitary products free to all women. The bill passed through the first stage of Scotland’s lawmaking process almost unanimously, with no opposition and only one abstention. Once enacted, the law would make women’s sanitary products freely available at designated public places.
The bill, known as The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill, asserts that “everyone in Scotland who needs to use period product” may obtain it free of charge. Specifically, the bill suggests a “period products scheme” for distributing the free products. The scheme would involve the distribution of vouchers that can be exchanged for the available sanitary products. Vouchers will be given out freely to those who can provide sufficient proof of their identity. Individuals can obtain these sanitary products at various public places including community centers, youth clubs and pharmacies.
Sanitary products in the UK are currently taxed at 5 percent. Former Prime Minister David Cameron initially indicated he would remove the tax entirely, but faced opposition and ultimately was unable to remove the tax.
Upon passage of the bill, Scotland will be the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products to all women. This bill builds upon Scotland’s previous 2018 efforts, where the country provided free sanitary products to students in schools, colleges and universities.
Lawmaking in Scotland requires an introduced bill to undergo three separate stages within the Scottish Parliament for review/passage. After Stage 3, the bill is then sent to the UK monarch for Royal Assent for confirmation. The signing off by the monarch ultimately results in the bill becoming an Act of the Scottish Parliament. The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill currently has passed the first stage of this lawmaking process, and is now set to undergo further review before the Scottish Parliament where amendments can be made.