Scotland Becomes First Country to Offer Free Sanitary Products to Fight ‘Period Poverty’

Scotland has become the first nation to offer free sanitary products to girls from low-income families.
Scotland has become the first nation to offer free sanitary products to girls from low-income families. (Photo: Getty Images)

Scotland has become the first country to take a major stand against what is known as “period poverty.” The six-month initiative will be run by Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), a social enterprise focused on improving health and well-being for those in poverty, and rolled out across certain regeneration areas in Aberdeen.

It is hoped that at least 1,000 women and girls will benefit from the effort, which is backed by funding from the government.

The sanitary products will first be offered to women’s health and housing charities, as well as four schools, with a view to extending the program should the pilot be deemed a success.

CFINE’s chief executive, Dave Simmers, believes severe austerity measures in the U.K. have led to the growing issue of period poverty. Speaking to the Scotsman, he said: “It’s been quite clear the cost of sanitary products are pricey at the best of times and can be exorbitant for many women who don’t have cash to spare. The overwhelming reason for women and people in general suffering poverty is the implementation of welfare reform.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The pilot will ensure access to sanitary products for local women in seven regeneration areas of the city and inform the future approach to the issue across Scotland.”

Period poverty is a very real problem.
Period poverty is a very real problem. (Photo: Getty Images)

The plan follows recent news that British girls from low-income families are skipping school while they are on their period because they simply can’t afford sanitary products like tampons.

Freedom4Girls, a charity that traditionally sends sanitary provisions to schoolgirls in Africa, was contacted by a school in Leeds after it found some of its female students were missing school because they didn’t have access to period products.

British MPs also recently discussed period poverty in the House of Lords and Commons, with Labour MP Helen Goodman questioning “whether the government offers any provision of female sanitary products for women who consider themselves unable to afford such products.”

It was also recently revealed that schoolgirls are skipping PE because they’re worried about people finding out they’re on their period.

The survey of 2,000 adult women, by period-education program Betty for Schools, revealed that almost half (46 percent) of young women say they’ve used their period as an excuse to miss PE.

The research also revealed the reasons women had given for skipping PE due to their period. More than a third of women (39 percent) cited a fear of leaking, while almost a quarter (24 percent) were concerned that their pads could slip or would be visible (24 percent).

The Scottish government and CFINE project comes just under a year after Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon MSP, urged the government to make a “firm commitment” to looking into the affordability of sanitary products, with a view to making them free to all women in Scotland.

Let’s hope this new initiative is a massive step in the right direction.

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