Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have upheld the principle of stopping period poverty by making sanitary products accessible to all free of cost. All parties supported a bill put forward by Labour Party’s Monica Lennon in its first examination in the Holyrood chamber in Scotland.
However, some informed there was a “huge volume of work to do” to improve the bill. This was to make it deliverable and affordable. Ministers had initially rejected the plans but shifted their stance after coming under stress from campaigners. The government is to put forth several amendments to discuss their “major” anxieties about the legislation. This includes the expected £24m annual expense of executing it.
The New Bill
The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill would constitute a legal obligation on the Scottish government to guarantee that period products are available free of cost “for anyone who requires them”.
Lennon stated that she was glad to have helped girl guides, trade unions, anti-poverty foundations and many people who have had their own lived reality of period poverty and understand what it is like not to have products when they require them.
Parliament approved Stage 1 of the Period Product (Free Provision) Scotland today. I am thankful to everyone who made it possible.
Was nice to have my daughter by my side as Scotland sent out a strong message on period dignity and gender equality. ❤️https://t.co/CzUKQ467Kn
— Monica Lennon (@MonicaLennon7) February 25, 2020
She told MSPs that period products should be a right and should be accessible to all. She promised to work with other parties to make sure the plans are deliverable.
Expenses to Finance the Plan
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said the offered expenses of the scheme had been dramatically depreciated, stating it would take “a whole lot of work and strive to make sure we can get something fit for purpose”.
She added, that the Parliament will now need to remove all the barriers and work hard collectively and collaboratively. Tory MSP Graham Simpson stated there was a “huge amount of work to do” to make the bill a reality.
At present tampons, pads and some reusable goods get funding in schools, colleges and universities. The Scottish government granted £5.2m funding to support this. Another £4m is accessible to councils, so the roll-out is available to other public areas. And another £50,000 for free stock in sports associations.
Period Poverty and Anxiety in Institutions of Learning
At St Paul’s High School in Glasgow, there is a project where older students have been equipped to talk to younger girls about periods and period poverty. “Period poverty means that girls can’t manage to buy period products,” one pupil, Caitlin, told BBC Scotland.
With average periods continuing about five days, it can run up to £8 a month for tampons and pads. “This means that some girls are scared to come to school and don’t want to leave the house at all,” replied another pupil, Amy.
Like all schools in Scotland, free period products have been open in the toilets at St Paul’s High School since the 2018-19 academic year. The move came after a study of more than 2,000 people by Young Scot discovered that about one in four students at school, college or university in Scotland had grappled with obtaining period products. Meanwhile, about 12% of respondents to research by Plan International told they have had to “improvise sanitary wear”.
Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV