Scotland is taking a stand against “period poverty.”
Last week, the country’s parliament approved a bill that will make pads and tampons free. The vote passed 112-0 – a resounding aye.
The legislation still needs to be signed into law, which lawmakers consider a given. Currently, students can already get free sanitary products in high schools, colleges and universities.
Under EU regulations, Britain has to charge a 5% tampon tax. Amazingly, the tax stands even after Brexit. Since 2015, the tax money collected from tampon sales – nearly $110 million CDN per year – is donated to women’s charities. When Scotland’s Period Products bill kicks in, the country’s government is expected to pay around $31 million a year to ensure women and girls have free access to menstrual products.
According to Plan International UK, 1 in 10 girls in Britain can’t afford sanitary products. Meanwhile, 2 in 10 use alternatives which are anything but sanitary.
“Period poverty is an issue that affects women and girls across the U.K., with more than a quarter having missed work or school because they couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to menstrual products,” said Mandu Reid, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “A decade of austerity has pushed many women into a desperate financial situation and many have been forced to use makeshift items, shoplift or simply go without these basic necessities.”
In Canada, it is estimated that every third woman or girl under 25 can’t afford to buy monthly menstrual products.