The Scottish government took a U-turn and is now on track to support new legislation to make period products free for all.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon first introduced the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill to legally make period products available to students and anyone who needs them through a government-supported “period products scheme” on April 23. Ministers previously opposed the bill, but received criticism from menstrual health advocates and announced on Wednesday that they will lend support for the bill’s passage.f
The Scottish National Party will vote for the bill at a stage one debate on Feb. 25 before seeking amendments to address their “significant” concerns, according to the BBC.
The charity Girlguiding Scotland has actively worked to end period poverty in the country and said that they welcome the win in a statement released to Global Citizen.
“This is such a great step forward in ensuring that the taboos around periods are tackled in making them more visible, starting discussions around periods, and ensuring that in the future, they will no longer be a source of anxiety,” Girlguiding Scotland Speak Out Champion Katie Young, 21, said. “I’m hopeful that the bill will continue to move through Parliament, and that universal free period products becomes a right for all people in Scotland.”
The charity recognizes there is still a way to go before the bill becomes law.
I’m delighted that every party in the @ScotParl is committed to supporting the general principles of the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.
— Monica Lennon (@MonicaLennon7) February 19, 2020
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell initially told Scottish Parliament the bill was unnecessary and feared people would take advantage of free period products. She also expressed concerns about the bill’s more than £24 million (around US $31 million) annual cost.
But Campbell confirmed that the legislation will have bipartisan support from the Scottish Conservatives, the Greens, and the Liberal Democrats when it comes before the Parliament for the first time next week.
While the government voiced concerns about implementing the bill, they understand there was, “broad consensus about general policy objectives,” Campbell said, according to the BBC.
Many serve to benefit if the bill passes. Plan International UK found 1 in 10 girls in the UK can’t afford to buy menstrual products, and 49% have missed an entire day of school because of their period.
Lennon remains optimistic about government support to end period poverty in the country.
“Legislation will guarantee rights, ensure that current initiatives continue in future on a universal basis, and will help us achieve period dignity for all,” she said.
Source: Global Citizen