Scotland's 'Period Poverty' Law Comes Into Force

Authorities are legally obliged to provide products to anybody who needs them
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2022 3:01 PM CDT
New Scottish Law Makes Period Products Free
Nicholson says period products should be as accessible as toilet paper in public bathrooms.   (Getty Images/Liudmila Chernetska)

Like many places, Scotland is experiencing a severe cost-of-living crisis. But unlike anywhere else, local authorities are now legally required to provide tampons and other period products free of charge to anybody who needs them. The Period Products Act, which passed the Scottish Parliament in a unanimous vote in 2020, came into force on Monday, CNN reports. The act says the products should be available in public buildings and obtaining them should not be "complex nor bureaucratic." The law says people should be able to access the products "reasonably easily," with no questions asked or forms to fill in.

"Proud of what we have achieved in Scotland," tweeted lawmaker Monica Lennon, who introduced the legislation. "We are the first but won’t be the last." The Scottish government says the PickupMyPeriod app launched earlier this year directs women to more than 1,000 locations where free products are available. Shona Robison, the government's social justice secretary, said the move is "more important than ever at a time when people are making difficult choices due to the cost of living crisis and we never want anyone to be in a position where they cannot access period products," CBS reports.

In an earlier effort to eliminate "period poverty," the Scottish government made period products free for students in 2018. "There's a very simple way to describe period poverty: you go to the supermarket and you have to actually choose whether you can buy a bag of pasta or a box of tampons. It's that basic," Georgie Nicholson of the social enterprise Hey Girls tells the BBC. "We hear of a lot of mothers going without their period protection just so they can feed their children and using things such as newspaper stuffed into socks or bread... because they're cheaper than period products." (More Scotland stories.)

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