Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP
Scottish Parliament has approved stage one of a plan to make all period products free in Scotland. On Tuesday, all parties backed the Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill, which was introduced by representative Monica Lennon.
While stage one of the bill passed, some Members of Scottish Parliament felt there was still a "huge amount of work to do" and the government is expected to make amendments addressing their "significant" concerns, according to BBC. One concern is that it would cost about £24 million, or more than $31 million annually.
Lennon said she would put in the work needed and that she was "thrilled" to have widespread support for the bill. She told fellow Members of Scottish Parliament that "access to period products should be a right and available to all," according to BBC.
In one Glasgow high school, older girls are working to teach younger students about period poverty. It can cost up to £8, or $10, for tampons and pads each month, and the expense can lead to some girls using tissues or socks instead, a student from St. Paul's High School in Glasgow told BBC News.
"This means that some girls [fear] to come to school and don't want to leave the house at all," another student said.
After a survey found one in four respondents at schools, colleges or universities in Scotland had struggled to access period products, free products became available in Scottish schools during the 2018-2019 academic school year.
In the U.S., nearly one in five American girls have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products, according to The Always Confidence and Puberty Wave VI Survey (conducted by the company that makes Always feminine hygiene products).
In March 2019, Congresswoman Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York, announced the Menstrual Equity for All Act, the first comprehensive bill to address the challenges that women and girls face in obtaining feminine hygiene products in America.
"The fact that there are people who aren't able to afford these products, and as a result, may miss school, may miss work, face certain stigma — I think it's a human rights issue that, especially in the United States of America, women should not have to be dealing with," Meng said.
Meng's bill would make menstrual hygiene products free for women in prison. It would allow states to use federal funds to supply pads to girls in school. And it would require that these products be covered by Medicaid.
Matt Birnholz, MDPeer