World first as Scotland to provide free access to period products

The Scottish Parliament has unanimously backed Labour MSP Monica Lennon’s bill to make period products free to anyone that needs them.

Monica Lennon and campaigners celebrate passing of Period Poverty Bill

Monica Lennon and campaigners celebrate the passing of the Period Poverty Bill

Monica Lennon’s campaign to end period poverty, that began in 2016 when she was elected to the Scottish parliament as an MSP for Central Scotland, finally cleared its final hurdle in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (24th November 2020) and is now set to become law, the first of its type in the world.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to parliament by Monica Lennon as a Member’s Bill in April 2019, after a period of consultation,  and seeks to set up a Scotland-wide scheme to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge.

It also places a legal obligation on schools, colleges and universities to make a range of period products available for free and empowers the Scottish Government to make other public bodies provide period products for free.

Monica Lennon speaking in period poverty debate

Monica Lennon praised the campaigners who supported her bill

As Monica pointed out in parliament, the campaign was a national one that brought together many groups such as trade unions, Girlguiding Scotland, equality and grassroots activists, often working across political divides, and built upon previous work done by pioneering institutions such as South Lanarkshire College and North Ayrshire Council.

Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history, but we have the chance to be the first.

Monica Lennon MSP

Previously an issue that was rarely talked about, Monica’s campaign has made period poverty a mainstream issue, which considering a 2018 a survey by Young Scot found that around a quarter of respondents had struggled to access sanitary products in the previous year was not before time.

Speaking to The Guardian, Monica Said:

This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates. There has already been great progress at a community level and through local authorities in giving everyone the chance of period dignity.

There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life. A few years ago, there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream. MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.

In closing the debate Monica paid tribute to the many campaigners and thanked MSPs across the floor for supporting the bill saying:

Thanks to that amazing grass-roots activism, universal access to free period products has become a mainstream campaign that every political party in the chamber has embraced.

We all agree that no one should have to worry about where their next tampon pad or reusable is coming from. We are on the brink of passing this world-leading bill. Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history, but we have the chance to be the first.

Period poverty bill passed

The bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill was passed unanimously, with many MSPs voting from home due to covid-19 restrictions, and has been praised as an excellent example of collaboration with MSPs of different parties congratulating Monica who in turn acknowledged the support of other parties and Aileen Campbell, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government.


25th November 2020

Posted by HLSLabour

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