Period poverty is a global issue, with many young girls and women unable to afford the proper sanitary products that they need each month. A six-month initiative has begun in Scotland to offer low-income women free access to sanitary products, with products being rolled out across Aberdeen.
The pilot is run by Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), a charity that is offering the free sanitary products to women's health and housing charities and four schools in the area, with the view to expand the scheme on a global scale. The plan is to use the six month period to make a case for future government policies surrounding sanitary product affordability.
This comes after a resolution was passed at Scotland's national council, when it was raised by Gillian Martin MSP and Julie Hepburn, the SNP's political education governor. The initiative developed further after Gillian Martin MSP worked alongside cabinet secretary Angela Constance MSP.
CFINE's chief executive Dave Simmers links period poverty to austerity measures in the UK. “The overwhelming reason for women and people in general suffering poverty is the implementation of welfare reform,” he said, in an interview with The Scotsman.
“This is a very welcome development and CFINE is delighted to be involved. CFINE and our 60 partner organisations engaged in Food Poverty Action Aberdeen are very aware of the cost and challenges of accessing sanitary products for many girls and women from low-income households. Over a woman’s lifetime, sanitary products cost on average more than £5,000, a significant sum for those on low-income. Many cannot afford them and may use inappropriate methods or miss school. The findings of this pilot should be very useful in informing future action by the Scottish Government,” he added.
The initiative is less than a year since Monica Lennon MSP has called for the government to commit to looking into making sanitary products more affordable, with the vision to make them free to all women in Scotland. The latter bill consideration is currently underway.
When obstructions such as 'tampon tax' - the added tax that deems pads and tampons a luxury and not a necessity - are finally removed from the equation, sanitary products will be more accessible and affordable for all women. Until then, the people that are helping those who struggle to access these monthly necessities continue to encourage the government to open their eyes and call for change.