Dundee University is to make free sanitary products available in male toilets.
The move, which will also see free products sent to its 3,000 online learners across the globe, will allow men to pick up sanitary products for their partners or friends whilst also ensuring that people who use male toilets but have functioning uteri have access to the products.
The university is also to provide free packs of sanitary products to students returning to home abroad over the summer months as it expands its programme to end period poverty.
The announcement, which could see students from 180 countries receive the sanitary support, continues Dundee’s mission to end period poverty.
It was the first university in the United Kingdom to provide free sanitary products to its students in December 2017.
Nine months later, Dundee University became the first pilot university to offer free products to all its students after the Scottish Government dedicated £5.4 million to tackling period poverty for all students and school pupils in Scotland.
One of the online learning students who would benefit from the plan is Samira Ali, a 27-year-old from Maiduguri in Nigeria.
Samira, who is studying for an MSc Infection Prevention and Control, said: “I’m proud that the initiative reaches as far away as my home in northeast Nigeria.
“It will help break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation and the distress that a lot of women go through. It will make a huge improvement to my life and other students studying from afar.”
Dundee’s trailblazing tradition of tackling period poverty began in 2016 when its students successfully lobbied for the removal of the tampon tax across campus.
The tampon tax was a name given to illustrate women’s sanitary products were subject to VAT, unlike other necessities.
Between September 2018 and February 2019, Dundee University has distributed 99,684 free products to its students.
Monica Lennon MSP, whose member’s bill lodged at the Scottish Parliament would widen access to free sanitary products, said: “I welcome the ambition of Dundee University to expand period products to its 3,000 online learners – this really sets a precedent for other higher education institutions to follow.
“Access to period products should be a right regardless of income, no one should ever have to face the indignity of being unable to access these essential products to manage their period.
“Dundee University has taken steps to consider the well-being of all their students in Scotland and beyond, and the fact that they have distributed almost 100,000 products is further evidence that a universally accessible opt-in system is necessary – which is what my Bill will achieve if passed into law.”
Sharon Sweeney, student funding officer at the university who has led the period poverty pilot, said: “Learning doesn’t stop when you leave the lecture theatre and neither should the support our students receive.
“Our duty of care extends to all those we teach wherever they are in the world and it also covers anyone visiting campus to learn.
“This could be someone coming to our see our Saturday Series lectures or a local school pupil using our library to finish their Highers.
“Anyone from the local community who uses our spaces to learn, and our staff who might also experience period poverty, should feel safe in the knowledge that our sanitary products are free for them too.”