In 2017, 1 in 4 (26%) survey respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access sanitary products.
One respondent summed up the issue of period poverty eloquently:
“It’s great to be a girl. But sometimes things that come with being a girl can make life difficult. It’s no secret that many people in Scotland find it difficult to afford or access sanitary products.
This can lead to girls missing school and so losing out on vital education. This effects a girl’s learning and therefore how well she does in school.
It can lead to major issues in adulthood such as unemployment and health issues.
More awareness needs to be spread around this issue as it is extremely important and has a huge impact on our society and our country.”
Scotland provides free period care in schools to fight period poverty
In August 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities, with a revolutionary £5.2M programme.
The government also launched a £500,000 scheme to help women from low income households to access free sanitary products in their communities.
“It is unacceptable that anyone in Scotland should be unable to access sanitary products and we know that young people in particular can face barriers when it comes to asking for help."
- Scotland's Equalities Secretary Angela Constance
"In a society as rich as Scotland, no one should have to suffer the indignity of not having the means to meet their basic needs.
"We also want to continue to reduce the stigma and address the overarching gender equality and dignity issues that affect everyone who menstruates, regardless of their income.
"This is about breaking down barriers and enabling women to access sanitary products which are not a luxury product, they are a necessity for a very large part of a woman's life, and so to enable them to access that freely because of their own financial challenges is something that I think is important and is supporting women."
- Aileen Campbell, Scottish Communities Secretary.
“We know the average cost of a period in the UK over a year is £500. Many women can’t afford this. What is the minister doing to address period poverty?”
- Danielle Rowley, Representative for Midlothian.
Better late than never for period poverty
It is incredible that it has taken until 2018 for legislation that directly addresses period poverty - especially when you consider that this only helps the most vulnerable group of women experiencing the strain and shame and economic impact of being unable to manage their period...
But baby steps are better than no progress on period poverty, and we are totally delighted that the hard work of MPs in Scotland - like Danielle Rowley (who made history by announcing she was on her period in parliament, and that it had cost her £25 already that week), Carolyn Harris, Aileen Campbell and Angela Constance has made life easier and more empowered for thousands of girls!