Scotland is now the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products to low-income families – and we think it’s a positive move forward.

The Scottish government has outlined plans to tackle “period poverty” with at least 1,000 women and girls set to benefit from the scheme, which has already received £42,000 worth of funding.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance says: “It is unacceptable that any woman or girl in Scotland should be unable to access sanitary products. That is why, as part of our wider aims to eradicate poverty from our country, we are exploring how to make products freely available to low-income groups.”

Six month pilot

Social enterprise Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), who work to improve health and wellbeing for those in poverty, will run the six-month pilot.

“The pilot in Aberdeen is a first step to help us understand the barriers women and girls face – and to help us develop a sensitive and dignified solution to making these products easily accessible to those who need them,” explains Angela.

Originally the pilot will be offered to women’s health and housing charities, four schools, with plans to extend the programme universally if there are beneficial results.

Period poverty

We previously wrote about period poverty, which is leading some young women to miss school whilst they are on their period. This will be a welcome change to many low-income families, and women across the UK who have been fighting for free sanitary care.

Speaking with The Scotsman, CFINE’s chief executive, Dave Simmers says: “We’ve been aware of this problem for many years after hearing about difficulties from women at our food banks. It’s been quite clear the cost of sanitary products are pricey at the best of times and can be exorbitant for many women who don’t have cash to spare.

The overwhelming reason for women and people in general suffering poverty is the implementation of welfare reform. There are huge problems with benefits sanctions, delays in benefits caused by the roll-out of Universal Credit.”

Sanitary products are an essential part of any woman’s life and due to austerity measures it is harmful to a woman’s wellbeing to not be able to afford sanitary products. It is hoped the introduction of this pilot will tackle period poverty and, hopefully, see other countries follow.

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