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Scotland first country to provide free period products

A campaigner for the bill outside Holyrood.

Scotland will become the first country to provide period products for free, following a vote at Holyrood.

MSPs unanimously approved a Bill brought forward by Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon, bringing in legal right of free access to items such as tampons and sanitary pads.

Ms Lennon said the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill was a “practical and progressive” piece of legislation, made all the more vital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bill was passed by 121 votes to zero, gaining support from all five of the country’s represented parties.

Landmark day

Ms Lennon said: “This is a landmark day for Scotland and for everyone who has campaigned to end period poverty.

“Period products are essential and now no-one in Scotland will have to go without them.

Monica Lennon MSP, second left, joins supporters of the Period Products bill at a rally outside Parliament in Edinburgh in February as the bill passed stage 1.

“The Period Products Bill is proof that ambitious and progressive change can be achieved through grassroots activism and political collaboration.

“In Parliament, all parties found common cause to make this legislation a reality.

“Periods don’t stop in a pandemic, and free universal access to period products is needed more than ever.

“I congratulate and thank all the campaigners who have supported the Bill and helped to consign period poverty to history.”

Access with dignity

The scheme, which is estimated to cost about £8.7 million a year, will provide universal access to period products and will not be means-tested.

Aberdeenshire councillor and Cosla president Alison Evison has been “instrumental” in pushing the bill forward, according to Ms Lennon.

Ms Evison said: “Nobody should have to face the stress of being unable to afford the period products they require. Everyone should have access to what they need, with dignity.

“This bill will break down some of the barriers which have prevented some people from living as they would wish in their local communities. It will help ensure that menstruation is at last accepted as a normal part of life.

“It is my hope that work undertaken to date, both locally and on the bill, will continue to benefit our communities and help ensure period dignity going forward.”

The campaign has been heavily supported by charity Endometriosis UK, which supports the one in 10 women across the UK who suffer from the chronic condition.

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