Period poverty is a big issue that's seldom discussed. A study of UK girls found that 15% have struggled to afford them and 19% have changed to a less suitable product due to cost.
There is also a real problem with period stigma. A recent study found that 74% of 14 to 21-year-old girls in the UK felt embarrassed buying period products.
That's why the Scottish Parliament is about to pass a law that would make it the first country in the world to make sanitary products freely available. It will give "anyone who needs them" access to products "relatively easily" with "reasonable privacy."
It will be a landmark event in the movement to make menstrual hygiene a basic human right.
The Period Products Scotland Bill was proposed by Scottish lawmaker Monica Lennon. "These are not luxury items. They are indeed essential and no one in Scotland should have to go without period products," Lennon said, adding that the bill was about "period dignity."
Under the law, products will be made available for free at pharmacies, youth centers, and community centers.
Two years ago, Scotland became the first country to make sanitary products free in all schools, colleges, and universities.
"We will continue our world-leading action promoting wider period dignity through a certification scheme to encourage organizations to provide free products," Aileen Campbell, Scotland's communities secretary, said.
Unfortunately, period products in the UK are still subject to a 5% tax. Former prime minister David Cameron was looking into eliminating it but his hands were tied due to European Union rules.
Currently, there are currently 13 countries that do not impose a tax on period products. In the U.S., there are only 15 states where sanitary products are tax-free.
Period poverty is also an issue in the United States although there's little momentum towards a free-products-for-all program.
Research by The Always Confidence and Puberty Wave VI Survey found that "nearly one in five American girls have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products."
"The fact that there are people who aren't able to afford these products, and as a result, may miss school, may miss work, face certain stigma — I think it's a human rights issue that, especially in the United States of America, women should not have to be dealing with," said Congresswoman Grace Meng, D-New York.
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