In a world first, Scotland has announced that it will offer free sanitary products to students at all schools, colleges and universities.
The Guardian reports that the Scottish government has dedicated £5.2 million (around $6.7 million) to the initiative, with the goal of combating “period poverty,” a term used to describe the lack of access to sanitary products due to restricted finances. By providing menstrual products specifically to school-aged women, officials hope to ensure that students will not have to disrupt their education because they can’t afford to buy pads or tampons.
According to a survey by the group Women for Independence, nearly one in five women in Scotland have been unable to purchase sanitary products due to lack of funds. Research by the group Young Scot, moreover, found 26 percent of students said they had struggled to access sanitary products in the past year — and of those respondents, 43 percent said it was because they were unable to buy them. And this issue is not restricted to Scotland; in the United States, nearly one in five girls have left school early or missed it entirely because they did not have access to period products, according to Always.
Now, thanks to the new initiative, 395,000 students in Scotland will be able to get the sanitary products they need, free of charge.
“In a country as rich as Scotland it’s unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products,” said Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities & Local Government, according to the Guardian. “I am proud that Scotland is taking this world-leading action to fight period poverty and I welcome the support of local authorities, colleges and universities in implementing this initiative.”