Scotland is to become the first country in the world to protect in law the right to access free period products.
Councils and education providers will be legally required to make period products available free of charge to anyone who needs them when the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act comes into force tomorrow (Monday 15 August).
Since 2017, the Scottish Government has invested more than £27 million to fund access in a range of public settings and the new law will cement this progress.
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said:
“Providing access to free period products is fundamental to equality and dignity, and removes the financial barriers to accessing them. This is more important than ever at a time when people are making difficult choices due to the cost of living crisis and we never want anyone to be in a position where they cannot access period products.
“Since 2018, we have delivered ground-breaking action by providing free period products for pupils and students in all our schools, colleges and universities. We are proud to be the first national government in the world to take such action.
“The work we are doing in Scotland continues to be world leading, going goes beyond provision of free products. We have also provided funding for an educational website for employers, run a successful anti-stigma campaign, and improved menstrual health resources available for schools.
“I’m grateful to all the young women and girls who have been crucial in developing the best ways to access products to meet their needs.”
People can find their nearest collection point through the PickupMyPeriod mobile app which was launched earlier this year by social enterprise Hey Girls with Scottish Government support.
Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls, said:
“The Period Product Act shows Scotland is leading the way in recognising that period products are not a luxury and should be freely available to all.
“Through our PickupMyPeriod app, we work to ensure no-one in Scotland is left without access to period products and are well on the way to achieving that with more than 1,000 locations highlighted to users.
“We hope the Act will help those in need and that our app will be of support to many more as our network continues to grow.”
The main duties on local authorities and education providers in the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 will come into effect on 15 August 2022. In October 2021 the Scottish Government published guidance to support organisations in delivering these products.
The Act builds on the Period Products in Schools (Scotland) Regulations which came into force in October 2020, placing a duty on local authorities and grant-aided schools to provide free products for pupils. The Scottish Government is providing £3.4 million in 2022-23 for access to free period products for students.
Scotland’s approach to delivering period dignity has been commended globally, with countries including South Korea and New Zealand taking a similar approach to meet their own needs.