Having a period is something which the vast majority of women and girls of reproductive age experience nearly every month – but accessing period products isn’t always as straight forward as it should be.
At different times in their lives and for a variety of reasons, many people can find it difficult to access or afford the period products they need. Circumstances which make menstruation a difficult experience include homelessness, coercive, controlling and violent relationships and health conditions such as endometriosis (affecting 1 in 10 women) which can cause extremely painful and heavy periods in some cases. Some trans people may also experience difficulties in accessing sanitary products.
In Scotland, we have started to make some progress in this in recent years – and provision of products in schools, colleges and universities is a welcome step forward.
However - we can and must do more. Scotland can lead the way in making our country a place where period dignity is a reality for everyone who menstruates. That’s why legislation has been introduced by Monica Lennon MSP to the Scottish Parliament which would put a legislative duty on Scottish Ministers to develop a universal system in Scotland which will provide free period products for anyone who needs them. The proposal also includes a statutory duty on schools, colleges and universities to provide free period products on their campuses.
In doing so, Scotland can end the silence and stigma that surrounds menstruation and will remove gendered barriers. This is a big step towards creating a fairer and more equal society.