Scottish scheme could see women given free sanitary products

The government has announced a six-month pilot project

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Women's sanitary products on sale at a small pharmacy | Image: Alastair Grant / AP/Press Association Images

Scotland could become the first country in the world to introduce free sanitary products for women.

Scottish Labour MP Monica Lennon wants to introduce a universal system of free provision of sanitary products across Scotland, leading the way in eradicating so-called "period poverty".

Ms Lennon is launching a consultation on a members' bill and if it is successful, it could see Scottish schools, colleges and universities offer free sanitary care in their toilets.

The move comes after a series of reports revealed young women are using socks and toilet paper, and sometimes staying away from school during their period because they do not have the money to buy tampons or towels.

In July, the Scottish government announced a six-month pilot project in Aberdeen aimed at women and girls from low-income households.

At least 1,000 people should receive free sanitary products during the trial, which ministers there have supported with stg£42,500 (€46,739) of funding.

If a new law is passed in Scotland, it would likely put pressure on ministers to introduce a similar scheme in the rest of Britain.

Ms Lennon said: "Scotland has the opportunity to be a world leader in ending period poverty.

"Access to sanitary products should be a basic right but sadly in Scotland we know not everyone can afford or obtain what they need.

"That's why I intend to introduce a legal duty on the Scottish Government to develop a universal system in Scotland which will provide free sanitary products for anyone who needs them.

"My proposal also includes a statutory duty on schools, colleges and universities to provide free sanitary products in their toilets. Having your period shouldn't result in anyone missing class.

"This is a big step towards creating a fairer and more equal society and I hope to hear from people right across Scotland during the consultation."

Last year, public schools in New York introduced free tampons and pads in all secondary school buildings following a successful pilot scheme.