Scotland becomes the first country to make period products free

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In a first, Scotland becomes the only country in the world to make period hygiene products free for all women. The Scottish Parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill and now, it will be the prerequisite of the Scottish government to ensure period items like sanitary pads and tampons are freely available to everyone who needs them.

Monica Lennon, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, had first introduced the bill on April 23, 2019, and had been campaigning to end period poverty since 2016. Lennon says that the Bill will tackle “period poverty”, which is when some people who need period products struggle to afford them.

The Bill had proposed different methods to make period products like sanitary pads and tampons freely available for people in need. Lennon sees period products as a basic necessity and believes that providing access to them is important for people’s dignity.

Lennon, on the passage of the bill, said, “A proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved…Periods products are essential, and now no-one in Scotland will have to go without them.”

On average, a period lasting for five days can cost up to eight pounds i.e. Rs 790.38 for tampons and pads in Scotland. Currently, the Scottish Government allotted 5.2 million pounds i.e Rs 51.36 crore to provide free tampons, pads, and some reusable products in schools, colleges and universities. Another four million pounds has been made available to councils so that the roll-out could be expanded to other public places.

Hungary and Sweden are the countries with one of the highest taxes on period hygiene products at 27 percent and 25 percent respectively.  However, India had done away with its 12 percent tax on all sanitary products back in 2018 and additionally, countries like Australia, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa recently have also abolished all sales tax on sanitary napkins and tampons.

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