Scotland becomes first-ever nation to provide free period products — and hopefully more will follow

The development comes after a four-year campaign that has fundamentally shifted the public discourse around menstruation.

Women’s menstrual cycle has always been surrounded by a zone of silence. And while it’s undergone by women worldwide, the lack of hygiene during this time is also a major issue.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act, which passed unanimously through its final stage on Tuesday evening, will place a legal duty on local authorities to make period products available for all those who need them.

The campaign — bolstered by nationwide grassroots support — was spearheaded by Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, who told The Guardian this was “a proud day for Scotland”.

“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,” she was quoted as saying.

According to the publication, period poverty — the struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis — has surged during the coronavirus pandemic.

One in 10 girls in the United Kingdom have been unable to afford period products, according to a 2017 survey from Plan International UK. The survey also found that nearly half of all girls aged 14 to 21 are embarrassed by their periods, while about half had missed an entire day of school because of them.

It is especially important to break the silence on this topic, so that millions of young girls every year don’t see their period as a disability, but a natural, normal part of their lives.

Women are the bringers of new life into the world, and periods are a part of that process. We applaud the move and hope more countries will follow suit.

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