Periods: A Scottish Victory

It’s been a journey but we’re finally getting somewhere. Scotland become the first country to make period products free. On Tuesday the 24th of November 2020, Scottish women were out celebrating as their parliament passes a law to make period products free of charge.

Let’s take a look back through the history of period products, periods have been around since the beginning of time so we have lots to get through. 4000 years ago, in Ancient Greece people were using bits of wood with lint wrapped around them as sanitary products, oh how times have changed…luckily. Moving on, people found other items that would be better when periods occurred, take the Romans for example they started to use pads made out of wool or old bits of rag. Thankfully sometime in the 19th century people started to figure out it wasn’t the most hygienic for women to be bleeding onto their clothes, and in 1888 after many women were caught stealing bandages from hospitals, the first disposable pad come out.

So period pads have been around since late 1800s but it wasn’t until 1931 that tampons were invented, Dr. Earle Haas got the idea of the ‘tampon’ from a friend who used to insert a sponge. Tampons and pads have been tweaked and changed over the years to become more absorbent but the ideas have stayed the same.  

Now, obviously women everywhere are glad period products are around and able to use, but at what cost? In the UK 1 in 10 girls simply can’t afford to buy period products whilst another 1 in 7 have struggled time to time with affording them. In January 2020 England passed legislation to give those under 19 in full time education access to free period products. However, this still isn’t enough.

You may be thinking periods aren’t that bad, but here’s what you won’t know, research found that 49% of girls have missed a day of education because of their periods, which over the course of the year leads to 137,700 children missing school due to periods. This isn’t just period pains, this is also not being able to afford period products, but what have people done to end period poverty?

The feminine hygiene brand Bodyform has been hailed for their ending period poverty campaigns, in 2017 Bodyform pledged to donate 100,000 sanitary products to those in need every 3 months and in January of 2020 they doubled their commitment to continue their fight against period poverty. So far, they have donated 3.6 million pads to local communities and they aim to have doubled that by 2023, this is a huge step to end period poverty and to allow everyone access to sanitary products.

The new law in Scotland is an outstanding breakthrough towards ending period poverty, one which they hope other countries will follow suit with. The new period product legislation was described as ‘practical and progressive’ and something Scotland should be ‘proud of.’ The lady behind this all is Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon. Miss Lennon said she is ‘beyond proud that Scotland is leading the way and we have moved at a fast pace in a short space of time.’ Scotland could be the first country in the world to eliminate period poverty forever and to make sure ‘no girl or woman in Scotland will struggle to afford period products.’

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