Scotland Monday enacted the Period Products Act, making Scotland the first country to make period products free. The bill was first introduced by Monica Lennon, a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), in 2017. Following her campaign, the Scottish government unanimously passed the Bill in 2020.
Under the new act, the Scottish government must set up a Scotland-wide scheme to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge. Local authorities are required to ensure that, within its area, period products are obtainable free of charge by all persons who need to use them. Schools, colleges and universities must also make a range of period products available for free in their restrooms. Specified public service bodies under the act will also have to ensure period products are obtainable free of charge by persons on their premises.
Scots will be able to locate the nearest location to find free period products through a mobile app called PickupMyPeriod. The app allows users to filter which products are available and how to find them at a specified location. Home delivery is also available.
The bill was introduced in order to tackle “period poverty,” the inability of individual who needs period products to afford them. Globally, around 500 million people who menstruate live in period poverty. Plan International UK’s study comprising of 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21 found that one in ten girls have been unable to afford sanitary wear, and one in seven girls have struggled to afford sanitary wear. Similar findings were seen in a January 2021 research study in the United States; 14.2 percent of women aged 18-24 experienced period poverty.
Lennon commended the Scottish government on the act, saying “[p]roud of what we have achieved in Scotland. We are the first but won’t be the last.”