Thanks to the hard work of Monica Lennon MSP, the issue of period poverty is very much on
the political main stage.
As austerity continues to bite across the country and despite their best efforts, families continue
to struggle to provide the basic necessities for themselves and their children. Indeed, in today’s
Scotland, poverty takes many forms, which is why our Labour minority administration set up a
working group to explore ways to support families affected by poverty, looking at issues
including school uniform, health and wellbeing, homework and out of schools learning and
The research carried out by this group made clear that something had to be done about tackling
the stigma and barriers associated with period poverty.
Following our summer break, pupils attending primary, secondary and additional support needs
schools in North Lanarkshire will have free access to sanitary products - one of the first local
authorities in Scotland to do so.
It is totally unacceptable that women and girls struggle to access adequate sanitary products
simply because they cannot afford them. By ensuring the provision of free products within every
school - with a view to to extend the scheme universally to other establishments including
leisure centres, libraries and community centres - pupils in over 150 schools across North
Lanarkshire will benefit as part of a range of initiatives by this administration aimed at helping
our communities deal with the real impact of poverty. These include expanding our breakfast
club provision, our innovative Club 365 programme which provides free food and activities for
eligible children during the holidays and at weekends and a significantly increased footwear and
clothing grant to one of the highest levels in Scotland.
Almost as important, however, as the provision of free sanitary products are how they will be
accessed by the public. That’s why we’ve committed to access being made available to sanitary
products in a dignified and respectful way. No woman should have to ask or request for these
sanitary products from a member of council staff, teacher or other school staff member.
Sadly, in 2018, poverty still takes many forms. As a Labour minority administration, we have
pledged to make life easier for those who struggle most in any way we can. It is our hope that
Monica Lennon’s Sanitary Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill receives unanimous backing
at the Scottish Parliament and is the first in a long-line of anti-poverty measures passed at
Holyrood as they follow the lead of administrations like North Lanarkshire.