Fairer Scotland

Access to Free Sanitary Products

January 4, 2019 by No Comments | Category Equality

I’m proud to be part of a Government that has ensured students at schools, colleges and universities have access to free sanitary products.

The Scottish government was the first in the world to make products available to students as part of a £5.2m scheme to tackle period poverty.

Nobody should suffer the indignity of struggling to pay for basic sanitary products, which can affect hygiene, health and wellbeing. Nobody should miss out on education because of their period. 

We have come a long way since we made our commitment to providing free access to sanitary products; working with COSLA, colleges and universities to make it a reality across the country.

From the outset, we wanted communities to decide how the products would be made available at a local level.  We know that a solution which works well in one setting, may not necessarily work in another. 

I was pleased to see the different ways the products were distributed, reflecting local need and working in consultation with students right across the country. Early feedback has highlighted some really great approaches, from simply having drawers and shelves filled with products in bathrooms to Stirling High School creating their own Period Panda mascot called Pedro!

As young people begin to see products available in their place of learning, it’s also an opportunity  to inform them about this natural function and tackle the wider issue of the stigma associated with periods, which unfortunately still exits.

We have worked closely with Young Scot to develop a fantastic website that tells people what happens to their body when they get their period – www.young.scot/periods 

We have also funded a Young Scot survey of over 2000 young people that shows one in four struggled to access the products they needed at some point in the last year.

A new resource to support learning about menstrual health is currently under development. With age-appropriate information it will help schools to teach pupils all about periods and sanitary products from a younger age.

We have made excellent progress, and are taking action to go even further. We want to make it easier for people to access products if and when they need them, so that they can have money for other household essentials.

Access to sanitary products is a basic need that we don’t want anyone, not just those in education, to worry about. Our successful pilot in Aberdeen clearly demonstrated the impact on low income households who struggle to afford sanitary products.  

That is why we have provided £500,000 to FareShare to expand access to products through almost 1000 organisations and services working right across Scotland. We will continue to work with our partners to deliver wider local access across the country. Working in partnership we can bring together the skills, experience and passion needed to deliver our next steps. 

We are the first Government in the world to make free sanitary products available to all pupils and students. This has led to global praise and interest in what Scotland is doing. We recently shared our learning with colleagues from across Europe at a World Health Organisation group on sanitation and hygiene in schools. It is a record to be proud of.

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