Scotland on Monday became the first country in the world to declare free access to menstrual products as tampons and sanitary pads.
With the signing of the new law, which became effective this Monday, the British nation seeks to protect free access to these health products.
The new legislation, known as the “Menstruation Products Law,” states that public councils and educational institutions must create methods to make these products available free of charge.
Since 2017, the country has invested nearly US$30 million to provide tampons and sanitary napkins in public places.
Georgie Nicholson, who runs the British organization Hey Girls, which seeks to make these products free across the UK, told the BBC that the organization had conducted a study before the pandemic that indicated that one in four women in Scotland she had faced period poverty at some point.
“There is a very simple way to describe the poverty of menstruation: you go to the supermarket and you have to choose if you can buy a bag of pasta or a box of tampons. It’s that basic,” he said.
“We hear from many mothers who go without their period protection to feed their children and use things like newspaper stuffed in socks or bread…because they are cheaper than tampons and pads.”
Nicholson added that Scotland becoming the first country in the world to offer free period products is a “really huge” milestone.
For its part, in Latin America the furthest step that has been taken in this direction took place in Colombia, where the consumption tax on tampons and sanitary napkins was removed.
“Somebody buy them for me”
Shauna Gauntlett has suffered from so-called “period poverty” after the birth of her first child.
She, who lives in Scotland, told the BBC that buying sanitary products had become a financial burden after suffering from various ailments after giving birth.
“Nobody tells you exactly what happens after delivery, what’s normal, what to expect,” she says.
“I needed someone to buy those products for me, because I couldn’t afford it, nor could I go buy them. I had some stitches from the C-section, but then I had to have surgery and between the two operations I had to get it somehow, ”she explains.
Parliamentarian Monica Lennon was the person in charge of making the bill.
“This is another huge milestone for menstruation dignity activists and grassroots movements that shows the difference bold, political decisions can make,” Lennon noted.
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