‘Protect free access to period products in law’

Campaign backed by EIS teaching union calls for right to access free tampons and sanitary towels to be enshrined in law

Tes Reporter

‘Protect free access to period products in law’

An open letter calling for MSPs to support plans to provide free period products has been signed by dozens of charities, organisations and campaigners.

Scottish Labour's Monica Lennon is pushing for legislation to ensure sanitary products are made available on a universal basis, although the Scottish government has argued a change in the law is not needed.

The letter welcomes the government's efforts to provide free period products in schools, colleges and universities but says there is "wide support across Parliament and civic Scotland" for giving women the legal right to access free tampons and sanitary towels.

Background: Students get 8m free sanitary products

Roll out: How to end stigma around periods? Put pupils in charge

Opinion: 'Periods aren't shameful – let’s talk about them in school'

Short read: Third of teachers unprepared to talk periods

A range of organisations – including the EIS teaching union, Endometriosis UK, Children in Scotland, Barnardo's, the Poverty Alliance and Disability Equality Scotland – are among more than 30 signatories to the letter.

Ms Lennon said: "I am overwhelmed by the widespread backing this bill has received from organisations and individuals across Scotland and supporters across the world.

"Period poverty is a reality that causes shame for too many people and stops them fulfilling their potential.

"No one should have to go to food banks to access essential period products and this bill provides a solution that builds on the positive work that Scottish government, local authorities and education partners are already committed to."

She added: "This bill is about dignity and equality, and I'm proud it is supported by women's, youth and LGBT+ organisations, trade unions, health experts and a wide range of groups, who all believe in period dignity for everyone.

"Legislation will lock in the progress that has been made so far, and go further by protecting the right to access period products in law.

"I want to work with the Scottish government and all MSPs so that we can pass this world-leading legislation together."

In a debate about the proposed bill in Parliament last week, communities secretary Aileen Campbell estimated that it could cost more than £24 million a year to implement.

She also argued that legislation was not needed because "significant and world-leading" action from the Scottish government was already having an impact.

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