Scotland a step closer to be the first country to provide free sanitary products

Reuters reports that tampons and sanitary pads available at selected public places and will cost the country at an estimated 24.1 million pounds (more than R470 million) per year.

Monica Lennon, the proposer of free sanitary products in the country, is quoted saying, passing the bill would be a “milestone moment for normalising menstruation in Scotland and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality”. So far, the bill has passed the first stage in the process of being signed into law.

READ MORE: Japanese women asked to wear badges to work when they are on their period - here's why

In 2018, Scotland became the first country to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities. 

The Cut previously reported that the Scottish government announced a plan to roll out a free sanitary offering for all schools ad universities across the country in what could cost around £5.2 million, just north of R100 million.

Just before this plan was announced, a survey found that one in four of the 2000 female students surveyed experienced 'period poverty', i.e. they struggled with accessing sanitary products due to lack of funds. 

This also affected their studies, as some might skip class because they needed to stay home because of their period. 

READ MORE: People who bleed every month finally have zero-rated (and free) sanitary products, but this is not yet the end of #PeriodPoverty  

The reality is a large number of people cannot afford menstrual hygiene products and initiatives to help change that have been picking up globally, as well as in South Africa.  

Campaigns for women who cannot afford sanitary towels have increased and some supermarkets such as Pick n Pay try to do their part by having large sales on these items according to an article by City Press.

Many initiatives exist but when a Twitter user posted that they found a sanitary towel dispenser in one of the toilets at the University of Pretoria (UP) back in 2018 we found the news exciting. 

The dispensers are being distributed by the UP Law House and the initiative was started in 2018.. 

We previously spoke to Caroline Letsoalo, the then vice chairperson of the UP Law House who explained that the idea came about last year October when the new committee came into office. It took longer for the initiative to get of the ground.

"We started in July [2018] so it took a lot of planning and faculty management has been really helpful and the university," she explains.

Caroline also explains that they opted for dispensers because, "It is easier for students to access [them] rather than them coming to us personally and say 'I need a pad'." They can just go the bathroom and take what they need. 

READ MORE: How much does your period cost? Stellenbosch University calls for tampon tax to be eradicated

So how do they keep the dispensers stocked? Caroline says that they rely solely on donations from fellow students, staff members, faculty management and so on. Everyone is involved and that's what makes it work.

Hopefully we'll being seeing more similar initiatives across the country. 

What do you think is a good solution to assisting women and girls with access to senutary products? Share your ideas with us here.

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