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'About Bloody Time:' Scotland Announces a Bold First

Country is first to make period products free for all in move to end 'period poverty'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2020 6:37 AM CST

(Newser) – The struggle to find and buy menstrual products is over for women and girls in Scotland. On Tuesday, the country became the first to approve legislation to provide free and universal access to menstrual products in public facilities, following a four-year campaign. It involved ushering menstruation into public discourse and building on local programs that offered period products for free, ultimately leading to unanimous approval of the Period Products Act. "About bloody time," tweeted Member of Parliament Monica Lennon, who introduced the bill in April 2019. Lennon, who serves as health spokeswoman for Scottish Labour, said there had been "a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life," per the Guardian. "A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream."

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The government will work with local authorities to provide a "reasonable choice of different period products" for free, per the New York Times. Schools, colleges, and universities have been doing this since 2018. Businesses, even football clubs, voluntarily joined in the effort over the course of the campaign, per the Guardian. Aileen Campbell, cabinet secretary for communities and local government, said the legislation is "fundamental to equality and dignity." It is expected to cost the government $11.6 million in 2022-23 as it seeks to end "period poverty" for 1.57 million menstruating individuals. Research indicates almost one in five women struggle to pay for menstrual products each month. Women spend an average of $17 per month on menstrual products, but those costs add up over a lifetime, which sees the average women menstruate for a total of seven years of her life, per CBS News. (Read more Scotland stories.)

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