“We all agree that no one should worry about where the next tampon will come from,” said MP Monica Lennon, who introduced the bill ahead of the vote. “Periods don’t stop because of the pandemic, and working to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusable products has never been more important,” Lennon was quoted as saying by the PA news agency. Lennon first introduced the law to parliament in 2017.
Menstrual products are already free for school students in Scotland. The bill now mandates lawmakers to establish a nationwide system to ensure that everyone has access to them. Schools and universities are also required to make available a range of hygiene products free of charge in their toilet rooms. Other public institutions may be prompted to do the same by the government in the future.
According to the BBC, the local governments concerned must now decide whether practical arrangements should be made, but tampons and pads should be provided “reasonably easily” and with “reasonable dignity”.
Sturgeon: “I’m Proud”
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted, “(I am) proud to have voted for this important legislation, which will make Scotland the first country in the world to provide them with free menstrual products.” It is an important remedy for women and girls.
In Great Britain, Scotland in particular is seen as a leader in the fight against poverty. Many people have little money for such items and resort to old newspapers, cloth towels and toilet paper during their periods. Many schools and universities are already providing pads and tampons there for free. The problem was exacerbated again by the coronavirus pandemic, wrote the British “Guardian”.
14.60 Euro per month for hygiene items
The grassroots movement for independence previously found that nearly one in five women have too little money for hygiene products – which has a very negative impact on general well-being. On average, Scottish women spend around 14.60 euros per month on menstrual products – and several thousand euros a year.
The Guardian wrote that the program is estimated to cost around 9.8 million euros per year. The Scottish government was initially skeptical during the debate over the past few months, but eventually joined the non-partisan movement due to mounting pressure – that too from within its own ranks.
The Debate About the “Tampon Tax”
The Scottish city of Aberdeen had already distributed sanitary towels and tampons free of charge for six months in a pilot project in 2017. A year later, the government extended the action to schools and universities across the country.
In the UK, hygiene products are taxed at five per cent. Critics speak of a “tampon tax”. The British government promised to abolish the tax about four years ago – it hasn’t happened since.
There has already been a political debate over the “tampon tax” in several countries. States such as Ireland, Canada and India do not tax menstrual products. Australia abolished the “tampon tax” in 2018 after years of discussion. In Austria, according to the government program of the OVP and the Greens, the tax is to be reduced – so far the value-added tax on products is 20 percent.
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