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Scotland a step closer to making sanitary products free for all

The pioneering Period Products Bill – which would oblige the Scottish government to provide free sanitary products to all women – has just passed its first legislative hurdle.

Here at Thred we’ve written extensively on Period Poverty – one of the least discussed and most alarming consequences of financial and gender inequality that leaves hundreds of thousands of women a year without period products in the UK alone. Recently however, and thanks in no small part to Gen Z activists, period poverty has been popping up in political and legislative discourse more frequently. And Scotland have just become the first country to put their money where their mouth is.

The Period Products Bill was first proposed on the floor of Scottish parliament last year. The woman behind the movement is Monica Lennon, a Labour member. She initiated the first conversation about period poverty in the chamber’s history, and come 2020 has managed the difficult task of getting old male MPs talking about tampons. Last week the bill, which would ensure free universal access to tampons, pads, and other menstrual products, passed its initial vote with 112 votes in favour and one abstention. There were no opposing votes.

Image result for scotland period products

This is an incredible result considering the Scottish National Party’s concerns last year about the cost of implementing the bill, which has been estimated at about £24million a year, and the possibility of ‘period tourists’ flooding the country from England. It seems that the universal support for the concept of free period products amongst the public made them reconsider their stance.

The prevalence of women in the Scottish parliament is likely a reason why Scotland looks to be achieving a world first on this issue. Their cabinet is half female, compared with a quarter at the top table in Westminster. This is just one of the many social issues on which Scotland is steaming ahead of the rest of the UK – so far they’ve provided free university tuition and personal care, banned smoking completely in public places, and set a minimum price on alcohol.

Conclusion? Elect more women to parliament and maybe consider moving to Scotland (pack a raincoat).

Update 04/03/20

The UK has today announced that they will abolish the tampon tax in the next federal budget. The chancellor will announce the abolition of the tax in next week’s budget, marking the successful conclusion to a 20-year campaign by women’s rights activists.

Tampons and other women’s sanitary products currently have 5% VAT added to their price, but this will be scrapped, saving the average woman £40 over her lifetime. The tax will end when Britain leaves the EU at the end of December. Finally!



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