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Scotland sets by law free products for menstruation

2022-08-15T16:34:55.815Z

It is the first territory in the world where the right is legally protected Period products in a shop in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2020.RUSSELL CHEYNE (Reuters) Scotland continues to make history in terms of free products for women's periods and, as of Monday, is the first territory in the world where the right to access them free of charge is enshrined in a law. The commitment reinforces the provisions that already existed in areas such as schools or universities, and ex



Period products in a shop in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2020.RUSSELL CHEYNE (Reuters)

Scotland continues to make history in terms of free products for women's periods and, as of Monday, is the first territory in the world where the right to access them free of charge is enshrined in a law.

The commitment reinforces the provisions that already existed in areas such as schools or universities, and extends them to all public spaces, through the entry into force of the so-called Law of the Products of the Rule, endorsed unanimously in the Scottish Parliament in November 2020.

The legislation is groundbreaking and, despite full support for its passage, had initially been met with some reluctance by the Scottish National Party (SNP) government, concerned about the difficulties of putting the proposals into practice.

But thanks to the campaign of the promoter of the regulation, the Labor MP Monica Lennon, in collaboration with the groups that advocate for the end of the so-called menstrual poverty (referring to the lack of resources to buy basic sanitary products), Scotland feels a precedent that increases the pressure on other administrations to adopt similar strategies.

The challenge is remarkable, as admitted by the activists themselves who, for years, have demanded free products.

From today, local authorities and educational managers must guarantee that they are available at no additional cost to those who need them.

The aspiration, however, is not completely new, since since 2017, some 27 million pounds (about 32 million euros) have been invested in Scotland to offer access to these sanitary products in public spaces.

The culmination of these disseminated actions in a law that unifies the obligation would not have been possible without the involvement of municipal authorities and organizations related to the matter, according to Monica Lennon herself, who has claimed today's historical precedent as "another great milestone that demonstrates the difference that progressive and courageous political decisions can make.”

The entry into force of the regulations also coincides with the cost of living crisis in the United Kingdom, a country where, as winter approaches, a particularly complicated time is expected, in which citizens will be forced to major resignations to cope with inflationary pressure.

For the organizations that have been demanding this measure for years, period products should be as accessible and ubiquitous as toilet paper in public restrooms.

According to a study carried out before the pandemic by Hey Girls, a social enterprise that fights period poverty, one in four women in Scotland had at some point had difficulty buying pads, tampons and other period products.

In their reports, they collect the proliferation of cases such as those of mothers who have to choose between these products, or feed their children, which means that they have to resort to alternative homemade formulas, such as stuffing socks with newspapers or bread.

The Scottish Government itself has admitted this Monday that facilitating free access is "essential for equality and dignity", above all, in the face of the "difficult decisions" that escalating prices will increasingly impose.

As a consequence, measures that already existed, such as free provision in schools and universities, now have legal protection, and the great challenge is, therefore, to guarantee that it reaches those who need it, the initial concern of the Executive, which, during the parliamentary processing of the law, introduced a series of changes that would be key for the final unanimous approval.

In any case, the Government had already provided an item of more than five million pounds (nearly six million euros) to help educational institutions finance the products, as well as to support distribution among lower-income households, a task assumed by organizations such as FareShare.

Likewise, it had provided four million more for local authorities, so that they could expand the dispensing in other public spaces and an additional half million for sports clubs.

rooted in society

The initiative caught on in the social fabric and, for years, numerous hospitality businesses, such as pubs and restaurants, have offered products for free, a gesture of solidarity, since it was not mandatory.

The great unknown now is whether the Scottish initiative will inspire other administrations.

The British Government has a task force to improve accessibility and eliminate the stigma around periods and, for two and a half years, has guaranteed free products to primary and secondary schools.

The problem is that the program they have to take part in has hardly been promoted and, according to women's organizations, many centers are unaware of its existence, so they cannot apply to be part of it.

Where it has acted with more determination is in the so

-called tampon tax

, since, since last year, the 5% VAT that was applied to feminine hygiene products was abolished, a decision that could be made after leaving the Kingdom Kingdom of the European Union.

Community legislation does not allow it to be lowered further, although, in the previous five years, the Government had already deposited the money collected from VAT on products for menstruation in a fund used to support women's organizations and NGOs related to women.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2022-08-15

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