Scotland to end student period poverty with £5.2 million scheme

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Bronagh McGeary
Deputy News Editor

The government’s £5.2m scheme follows swiftly after a North Ayrshire council became the first of its kind in the UK to offer free sanitary products in public buildings.

The Scottish Government has announced a £5.2m scheme to provide free sanitary products to secondary and higher education institutions across Scotland. This would make Scotland the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products to its entire student population. With a staggering 395,000 students, this is no small feat. The University of Glasgow is no exception, and sanitary products will be made available in all “high-use” buildings on campus from Freshers’ Week onwards.

A Scottish Council in North Ayrshire became the first local authority in the UK to offer free sanitary products in all public buildings. It was announced that women across North Ayrshire were to have access to these products in libraries, community centres and public offices, marking a milestone in the attempt to end the reality of period poverty. The Scottish labour leader of the Ayrshire council, Joe Cullinane stated that “periods are not exempt from poverty”, and everyone should have access to sanitary products each month. Recent initiatives have created a ripple effect across the country, and have now marked the beginning of the fight to end period poverty altogether.

A recent survey on period poverty in Scotland by a grassroots group named Women forIndependence received responses from over 1,000 women, and found that one in ten women had been forced to choose essential household items, like food, over sanitary products. Those unable to afford proper sanitary products have resorted to toilet paper, socks and even newspaper to tackle their periods. In a survey conducted by Young Scot, one in four of the survey respondents who attended school, college or university revealed that they had difficulty obtaining sanitary products.

The project is planned to coincide with this academic year, meaning that every school, college and university will offer products such as sanitary towels and tampons for all students who need them. Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour MSP for Central Scotland, one of the frontrunners in the battle to end period poverty, stated that some women were foregoing their classes due to a lack of sanitary products. Councillor Alison Evison stated the scheme aimed to “ensure no young person misses out on their education through lack of access to sanitary products”.

Hey Girls, a social initiative with “Buy one Give one” products that donates a product for every purchase, are working with several Scottish councils to provide products to students in need. They will be a major provider for the government’s initiative, meaning that the money used to purchase Hey Girls products to provide Scotland’s educational institutions will also support thousands of women who are not in full-time education.