Period products likely to become ‘free across the UK as Scotland set to pave way’

Period products are likely to become free across the UK as Scotland inches steadily closer to introducing trailblazing legislation to tackle period poverty, campaigners said.

Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to provide free tampons and sanitary pads after the Period Products Bill, which passed its first legislative stage last month and has cross-party support, looks likely to become law. The legislation, first put forward in 2017 by Labour’s Monica Lennon in a bid to tackle period poverty, gained support from every party in the Scottish parliament – with the Scottish government announcing it plans to lend its support to the bill.

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Gabby Edlin, a campaigner working closely with the UK government on how to improve access to period products, told The Independent that the Scottish measures are likely to eventually be rolled out across the UK. She said: “People understand the need.

It is not just a flash in the pan problem. People need these products forever. Scotland is leading the way in how we need to be behaving towards periods.

We should be following.

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1/26

From menstrual cup to cloth, menstruation skirt or homemade sanitary pad, WaterAid highlights the many and varied ways in which women around the world manage their periods. Within the communities that WaterAid works, they talked to women about their periods. The result is a revealing snapshot of traditions passed on from mother to daughter, as well as women’s own, often innovative, solutions..

WaterAid

2/26 Nowana from Zambia, 45, fills a pouch with powdered cow patties that she uses during her period

‘I mainly use cow patties to manage my periods, occasionally I use a piece cut from an old blanket. I only use a blanket if am home and not intending to go anywhere. But the cow patties I use at any time whether I am just home or I am travelling to different places.Our parents taught us about the use of cow patties a long time ago before we even heard about pads.

I was shown this method by my grandmother and I have been using it since that time.Money is scarce and I cannot afford to buy pads, they are expensive and that’s why I use this method. I have children who are of age who also need pads and if you put all of us together, you will agree that it’s a lot of money that will be required and we cannot afford that.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

3/26 Powdered cow patties and the pouch Nowana would use during menstruation

‘I would prefer pads to cow patties if I had a choice. They are easy and already made, they are disposable and don’t require a lengthy process like the one I go through when using cow patties.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

4/26 Hilary from London, 27, uses reusable sanitary pads to manage her period

‘The environment is a big factor for why I use reusable sanitary pads.

It’s about reducing waste. I use a combination of different reusable sanitary pads, cotton or bamboo, when I am on my period. A group of women in India makes some of them as a means of sustainable income.

It is important to me that they are made of natural materials because I find it most comfortable and eco friendly. Fortunately, I am in the privileged position to think of comfort when it comes to sanitary towels.’

WaterAid/ Billy Barraclough

5/26 A reusable sanitary pad Hilary would use during menstruation

‘I buy these pads mainly from independent stores, most of them are online only, that focus on sustainable products. Most regular stores don’t sell them.

They are about 9 pounds for one towel, though the price differs depending on size and absorbency. They do stain and since they are made of cotton or bamboo, they usually last about as long as a regular piece of clothing. Some of the ones I have are now 2 years old.’

WaterAid/ Billy Barraclough

6/26 Lepera Joyce frpm Uganda, 23, showing her goatskin skirt which she uses when she is on her period

‘Our village is a pastoralist community; we have many cattle, goats and sheep.

After slaughtering them, we keep the skins for use as bedding, clothing and also for managing periods. I have this special skirt made out of goat’s skin that I wear during my period. The skirt is made in such a way that it has a thick folded bottom ending, which we locally call ” Abwo” – the tail of the skirt.

When I have my period I wear this skirt, I find a comfortable place to sit, I fold the tail of the skirt “Abwo” in between my thighs and wait for blood to drain in the tail of the skirt.’

WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

7/26 The goatskin skirt which Lepera Joyce uses to manage bleeding when she is on her period

‘I use this goatskin skirt because it’s always available; it’s our traditional sanitary pad.’

WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

8/26 Steph from Australia, 27, uses an IUD as well as tampons and pads to manage her period

‘I have an IUD to help manage my endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, which in turn helps manage my menstrual cycle as well.’

WaterAid/ David Freeman

9/26 IUD Steph would use during menstruation

‘The Mirena means that I don’t get a regular period, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Instead I have maybe 2 days of very light bleeding a month, it is quite random at the moment, but I don’t find this difficult to deal with. I almost always experience pain before the bleeding starts, so I can predict my needs quite well.

For any bleeding I do have, I use pads and tampons as needed. I also have some prescribed pain medication to help ease any symptoms that my cycle may cause.’

WaterAid/ David Freeman

10/26 Munyes, 44, from Uganda

‘During my period I find it easy and very normal to make a hole in the ground and sit on top of it for blood to drain in it. Whilst growing up, the mature women including my mum taught us the different methods of managing our periods, but I preferred this method of making a hole in the ground.

No man, not even your husband should see your blood. Even me, I have taught all my daughters how to use this method. I am happy and confident when using this method because I always find a private place where no man will see me.

This gives me confidence that I am safe.’

WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

11/26 Sangita from Nepal, 32, holds up a finished reusable sanitary pad

‘Ready made pads are costly and if you do not dispose of them properly it will pollute the environment.’

WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

12/26 A reusable sanitary pad made by Sangita

‘When I got to know about the menstrual pad making training, I was curious. I never knew that there are ways to make homemade cotton pads in a well-managed way. The training was two days.

The first day was mainly theory where we were told about menstrual hygiene management behaviour, measurement for the pad making, preparing paper cutting drafts. The next day was the practical where I made two cotton pads. Besides pad making, the training was useful because I gained knowledge on menstrual hygiene management.

Before this training, I used to be very shy while talking about menstruation. But now I am not shy anymore because menstruation is a natural process,’ says Sangita

WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

13/26 Limpo from Zambia, 22, cuts cow patties to size for use during menstruation

‘I was born here and I have been living here all my life. My (extended) family lives in Kembi and we have all grown up here.

I use cow patties to manage my period. I started using them along time ago just from the time I started having my period. I collect cow patties from the grazing areas for cattle in the plain and they are readily available.

Sometimes I collect dry ones and other times I collect semi dry ones depending on the season. If it is wet season, I collect cow patties and stock them somewhere to make sure they are completely dry before use. In a dry and hot season like now, I find them already dry and all I do is pick and use.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

14/26 A cow patty on top of the cloth Limpo would use

Limpo, 22, ‘I do not put the cow patties directly on my skin, I wrap it in a cloth and place it nicely to capture the flow without staining other clothes.

I like this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood before they are completely soaked. I go about doing all sorts of things without any trouble.’ Mongu District, Zambia, August 2018.WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

15/26 Claire from Manchester, 40, uses a menstrual cup during her period to reduce waste

‘The one thing with the Mooncup is that it is more hassle. It needs boiling to clean it properly.

We have a ‘Mooncup pan’ in which I boil it and sometimes I have to rush into the kitchen to stop someone from boiling an egg in it.’

WaterAid/ David Severn

16/26 Claire holding a menstrual cup

‘I don’t find the moon cup as convenient to empty when I am out and about. I’d only be able to do that if adequate facilities are available, since you do end up with blood on your hands.’

WaterAid/ David Severn

17/26 Elizerbeth Chisale from Malawi, 54, teaching her grand-daughter, Mary how to make a sanitary cloth locally known as nyanda

‘During our menstruation period, we use nyanda, which is a rag or a piece of cloth cut off from an old chitenge wrap [sarong]. We place it in a piece the underwear.

However, some among us cannot afford underwear, so in that case, we secure the nyanda in place by tearing a long and thin piece of the rag and tie it around the waist to hold the fabric tight in place.We also know of women who are very poor that they can’t even afford the chitenge wrap, so they cut off a piece of their blanket and use that; it is less sanitary than the chitenge but then, they have no other option. Sometimes, a piece of cloth from our husband’s old shirt comes in handy, if a chitenge wrap is not available,’ explained Elizabeth

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

18/26 Tamala from Malawi, 23, also uses a piece of cloth called nyanda during her period

‘Cleaning the nyanda can be problematic for us and our families, particularly with issues of hygiene and sanitation.’

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

19/26 Nyanda, a small piece of cloth used as a sanitary pad in Kapyanga, Kasungu, Malawi

“To clean a used nyanda, we use our feet first, continuously rubbing it against the ground, so we don’t have to touch it with hands. We then wash it in the mbiya [a clay pot used to store water] which means no-one else in the family can use it, because it becomes unsanitary, so we usually need two clay pots or even plastic basins, although the reality is that most families can only afford one.

This sanitary constraint also demands that we should have two bathrooms, one for when we are on our periods and one for the rest of the family to prevent infections, but most of us cannot afford two bathrooms, so we have to cope with what is available,” said Tamala

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

20/26 Women from Kapyanga sharing menstrual hygiene experiences, Malawi

‘If married, our husband is not supposed to see any piece of cloth that we are using, so the rags are carefully secured in a small plastic bag which we hang on a top corner close to the ceiling in the bedroom; this we do to ensure that our men do not have any close contact with that bag, even when we are not on our period. Depending on the menstruation flow, we can change the rags between three to five times a day. At night, we need to be extra careful not to stain the beddings, so sometimes we need to go out and change up to every three hours.

Travelling long distances when we are on our period is a challenge. The flow during menstruation is intensified as opposed to when you are at home. As we are required to change and clean the nyanda once it is soaked, we have to stop and use a nearby river or shallow well to clean ourselves.

This is not easy as most rivers have children playing around the banks. We make sure we have packed at least three to five pieces,’ said Mercy, 44

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

21/26 Doris from Zambia, 19, holds lint cotton she uses during menstruation

‘When am on my period, I stop playing soccer or any other sporting activities. I can’t run or play games with my friends.

I use pieces of chitenge material and cotton wool to manage my periods. [A chitenge is a wrap originally designed for women to cover themselves from the waist downwards.] I get my pieces of cloth from my mother’s old and worn out chitenge. As for the cotton wool, I pick it from the cotton fields and stock it up for use when need arises.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

22/26 Saba from Islamabad, Pakistan, 18, cutting a cloth to use during her period

‘I use cotton cloth to manage my periods. I get the cloth from home, from the clothes that we used to wear earlier and are now old and rough.’

WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider

23/26 A piece of cloth to be used as sanitary pad by Saba

‘My mom told me to use cloth during my periods.

I cannot afford to use sanitary pads.’

WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider

24/26 Lydia from Tanzania, 26, uses cotton sanitary pads when she is on her period

‘I use non-reusable pads from a brand called HC. I find them very comfortable because they are naturally cold and I experience very serious menstrual cramps. When I put them on, the cold helps to take away the pain and I feel comfortable and more relaxed.

I just buy them from a shop at a price that I can afford.Even if it gives you pain the fact that you have periods means that you are healthy and you are able to conceive in the future. It is something to be proud of and something that makes me feel feminine.’

WaterAid/ Priya Sippy

25/26 Burkina Faso

Pieces of old or worn loincloth, used by the majority of girls and women to manage their periods, especially those in rural areas or of modest means. ‘During my periods, I use pieces of traditional loincloths to protect myself and prevent infections. I tried the cottons [sanitary pads] but they cause slight wounds on your body.

So I prefer to use the pieces of loincloths.’ Brigitte, 23, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

26/26 A sample of sanitary pads, known as cottons, sold in the shops and used by some women or girls, who are wealthier, mainly in urban areas of Burkina Faso

‘With cotton, I feel more comfortable. Cotton is good but the only issue is that it can run out and that you can’t afford to buy more.’

WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

1/26

From menstrual cup to cloth, menstruation skirt or homemade sanitary pad, WaterAid highlights the many and varied ways in which women around the world manage their periods. Within the communities that WaterAid works, they talked to women about their periods.

The result is a revealing snapshot of traditions passed on from mother to daughter, as well as women’s own, often innovative, solutions.. WaterAid

2/26 Nowana from Zambia, 45, fills a pouch with powdered cow patties that she uses during her period

‘I mainly use cow patties to manage my periods, occasionally I use a piece cut from an old blanket. I only use a blanket if am home and not intending to go anywhere.

But the cow patties I use at any time whether I am just home or I am travelling to different places.Our parents taught us about the use of cow patties a long time ago before we even heard about pads. I was shown this method by my grandmother and I have been using it since that time.Money is scarce and I cannot afford to buy pads, they are expensive and that’s why I use this method. I have children who are of age who also need pads and if you put all of us together, you will agree that it’s a lot of money that will be required and we cannot afford that.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

3/26 Powdered cow patties and the pouch Nowana would use during menstruation

‘I would prefer pads to cow patties if I had a choice.

They are easy and already made, they are disposable and don’t require a lengthy process like the one I go through when using cow patties.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

4/26 Hilary from London, 27, uses reusable sanitary pads to manage her period

‘The environment is a big factor for why I use reusable sanitary pads. It’s about reducing waste. I use a combination of different reusable sanitary pads, cotton or bamboo, when I am on my period.

A group of women in India makes some of them as a means of sustainable income. It is important to me that they are made of natural materials because I find it most comfortable and eco friendly. Fortunately, I am in the privileged position to think of comfort when it comes to sanitary towels.’

WaterAid/ Billy Barraclough

5/26 A reusable sanitary pad Hilary would use during menstruation

‘I buy these pads mainly from independent stores, most of them are online only, that focus on sustainable products.

Most regular stores don’t sell them. They are about 9 pounds for one towel, though the price differs depending on size and absorbency. They do stain and since they are made of cotton or bamboo, they usually last about as long as a regular piece of clothing.

Some of the ones I have are now 2 years old.’

WaterAid/ Billy Barraclough

6/26 Lepera Joyce frpm Uganda, 23, showing her goatskin skirt which she uses when she is on her period

‘Our village is a pastoralist community; we have many cattle, goats and sheep. After slaughtering them, we keep the skins for use as bedding, clothing and also for managing periods. I have this special skirt made out of goat’s skin that I wear during my period.

The skirt is made in such a way that it has a thick folded bottom ending, which we locally call ” Abwo” – the tail of the skirt. When I have my period I wear this skirt, I find a comfortable place to sit, I fold the tail of the skirt “Abwo” in between my thighs and wait for blood to drain in the tail of the skirt.’

WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

7/26 The goatskin skirt which Lepera Joyce uses to manage bleeding when she is on her period

‘I use this goatskin skirt because it’s always available; it’s our traditional sanitary pad.’

WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

8/26 Steph from Australia, 27, uses an IUD as well as tampons and pads to manage her period

‘I have an IUD to help manage my endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, which in turn helps manage my menstrual cycle as well.’

WaterAid/ David Freeman

9/26 IUD Steph would use during menstruation

‘The Mirena means that I don’t get a regular period, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Instead I have maybe 2 days of very light bleeding a month, it is quite random at the moment, but I don’t find this difficult to deal with.

I almost always experience pain before the bleeding starts, so I can predict my needs quite well. For any bleeding I do have, I use pads and tampons as needed. I also have some prescribed pain medication to help ease any symptoms that my cycle may cause.’

WaterAid/ David Freeman

10/26 Munyes, 44, from Uganda

‘During my period I find it easy and very normal to make a hole in the ground and sit on top of it for blood to drain in it.

Whilst growing up, the mature women including my mum taught us the different methods of managing our periods, but I preferred this method of making a hole in the ground. No man, not even your husband should see your blood. Even me, I have taught all my daughters how to use this method.

I am happy and confident when using this method because I always find a private place where no man will see me. This gives me confidence that I am safe.’

WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

11/26 Sangita from Nepal, 32, holds up a finished reusable sanitary pad

‘Ready made pads are costly and if you do not dispose of them properly it will pollute the environment.’

WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

12/26 A reusable sanitary pad made by Sangita

‘When I got to know about the menstrual pad making training, I was curious. I never knew that there are ways to make homemade cotton pads in a well-managed way.

The training was two days. The first day was mainly theory where we were told about menstrual hygiene management behaviour, measurement for the pad making, preparing paper cutting drafts. The next day was the practical where I made two cotton pads.

Besides pad making, the training was useful because I gained knowledge on menstrual hygiene management. Before this training, I used to be very shy while talking about menstruation. But now I am not shy anymore because menstruation is a natural process,’ says Sangita

WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

13/26 Limpo from Zambia, 22, cuts cow patties to size for use during menstruation

‘I was born here and I have been living here all my life.

My (extended) family lives in Kembi and we have all grown up here. I use cow patties to manage my period. I started using them along time ago just from the time I started having my period.

I collect cow patties from the grazing areas for cattle in the plain and they are readily available. Sometimes I collect dry ones and other times I collect semi dry ones depending on the season. If it is wet season, I collect cow patties and stock them somewhere to make sure they are completely dry before use.

In a dry and hot season like now, I find them already dry and all I do is pick and use.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

14/26 A cow patty on top of the cloth Limpo would use

Limpo, 22, ‘I do not put the cow patties directly on my skin, I wrap it in a cloth and place it nicely to capture the flow without staining other clothes. I like this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood before they are completely soaked. I go about doing all sorts of things without any trouble.’ Mongu District, Zambia, August 2018.WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

15/26 Claire from Manchester, 40, uses a menstrual cup during her period to reduce waste

‘The one thing with the Mooncup is that it is more hassle.

It needs boiling to clean it properly. We have a ‘Mooncup pan’ in which I boil it and sometimes I have to rush into the kitchen to stop someone from boiling an egg in it.’

WaterAid/ David Severn

16/26 Claire holding a menstrual cup

‘I don’t find the moon cup as convenient to empty when I am out and about. I’d only be able to do that if adequate facilities are available, since you do end up with blood on your hands.’

WaterAid/ David Severn

17/26 Elizerbeth Chisale from Malawi, 54, teaching her grand-daughter, Mary how to make a sanitary cloth locally known as nyanda

‘During our menstruation period, we use nyanda, which is a rag or a piece of cloth cut off from an old chitenge wrap [sarong].

We place it in a piece the underwear. However, some among us cannot afford underwear, so in that case, we secure the nyanda in place by tearing a long and thin piece of the rag and tie it around the waist to hold the fabric tight in place.We also know of women who are very poor that they can’t even afford the chitenge wrap, so they cut off a piece of their blanket and use that; it is less sanitary than the chitenge but then, they have no other option. Sometimes, a piece of cloth from our husband’s old shirt comes in handy, if a chitenge wrap is not available,’ explained Elizabeth

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

18/26 Tamala from Malawi, 23, also uses a piece of cloth called nyanda during her period

‘Cleaning the nyanda can be problematic for us and our families, particularly with issues of hygiene and sanitation.’

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

19/26 Nyanda, a small piece of cloth used as a sanitary pad in Kapyanga, Kasungu, Malawi

“To clean a used nyanda, we use our feet first, continuously rubbing it against the ground, so we don’t have to touch it with hands.

We then wash it in the mbiya [a clay pot used to store water] which means no-one else in the family can use it, because it becomes unsanitary, so we usually need two clay pots or even plastic basins, although the reality is that most families can only afford one. This sanitary constraint also demands that we should have two bathrooms, one for when we are on our periods and one for the rest of the family to prevent infections, but most of us cannot afford two bathrooms, so we have to cope with what is available,” said Tamala

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

20/26 Women from Kapyanga sharing menstrual hygiene experiences, Malawi

‘If married, our husband is not supposed to see any piece of cloth that we are using, so the rags are carefully secured in a small plastic bag which we hang on a top corner close to the ceiling in the bedroom; this we do to ensure that our men do not have any close contact with that bag, even when we are not on our period. Depending on the menstruation flow, we can change the rags between three to five times a day.

At night, we need to be extra careful not to stain the beddings, so sometimes we need to go out and change up to every three hours. Travelling long distances when we are on our period is a challenge. The flow during menstruation is intensified as opposed to when you are at home.

As we are required to change and clean the nyanda once it is soaked, we have to stop and use a nearby river or shallow well to clean ourselves. This is not easy as most rivers have children playing around the banks. We make sure we have packed at least three to five pieces,’ said Mercy, 44

WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

21/26 Doris from Zambia, 19, holds lint cotton she uses during menstruation

‘When am on my period, I stop playing soccer or any other sporting activities.

I can’t run or play games with my friends. I use pieces of chitenge material and cotton wool to manage my periods. [A chitenge is a wrap originally designed for women to cover themselves from the waist downwards.] I get my pieces of cloth from my mother’s old and worn out chitenge. As for the cotton wool, I pick it from the cotton fields and stock it up for use when need arises.’

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

22/26 Saba from Islamabad, Pakistan, 18, cutting a cloth to use during her period

‘I use cotton cloth to manage my periods.

I get the cloth from home, from the clothes that we used to wear earlier and are now old and rough.’

WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider

23/26 A piece of cloth to be used as sanitary pad by Saba

‘My mom told me to use cloth during my periods. I cannot afford to use sanitary pads.’

WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider

24/26 Lydia from Tanzania, 26, uses cotton sanitary pads when she is on her period

‘I use non-reusable pads from a brand called HC. I find them very comfortable because they are naturally cold and I experience very serious menstrual cramps.

When I put them on, the cold helps to take away the pain and I feel comfortable and more relaxed. I just buy them from a shop at a price that I can afford.Even if it gives you pain the fact that you have periods means that you are healthy and you are able to conceive in the future. It is something to be proud of and something that makes me feel feminine.’

WaterAid/ Priya Sippy

25/26 Burkina Faso

Pieces of old or worn loincloth, used by the majority of girls and women to manage their periods, especially those in rural areas or of modest means. ‘During my periods, I use pieces of traditional loincloths to protect myself and prevent infections.

I tried the cottons [sanitary pads] but they cause slight wounds on your body. So I prefer to use the pieces of loincloths.’ Brigitte, 23, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

26/26 A sample of sanitary pads, known as cottons, sold in the shops and used by some women or girls, who are wealthier, mainly in urban areas of Burkina Faso

‘With cotton, I feel more comfortable. Cotton is good but the only issue is that it can run out and that you can’t afford to buy more.’

WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

“Period products are essential products.

Toilet paper and soap are freely accessible but because of sexism, period products are not. When people are not able to access them, their lives are severely impacted. If you come on your period and don’t have a tampon or pad, it is not just that moment of panic, it’s the constant shame of leaking.”

Ms Edlin, who is the founder of the charitable project Bloody Good Period, said she has talked to a woman who was forced to grab a tablecloth hanging on a stranger’s washing line to cope with her period due to not being able to afford products.

The campaigner argued there is a massive stigma around periods due to women’s bodies being deemed dirty and unhygienic.  

“If you go into a restaurant and there is no toilet paper, you go and tell the waiter,” she added. “It needs to be as casual as that to ask for period products.”

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Period poverty is a widespread issue in the UK – with 49 per cent of girls having missed a day of school due to periods and one in 10 women aged 14 to 21 not able to afford period products.

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Nicoletta Primo, of Girlguiding Scotland, said there has been “great support” for the bill in Scotland and that it will not only provide economic benefits, but also help to overhaul stigma around periods.

“We are really pleased for this to be so high on the political agenda,” Ms Primo said. “Scotland would be a world leader.

We would be really hopeful this would be inspirational for other countries, including the rest of the UK. According to the research we have done, 91 per cent agree free products would help girls and young women participate in after-school activities.”

Ms Primo said the bill sends a signal that issues which affect women and young girls are being taken seriously, and marks a key step towards creating a more gender-equal society.

Her comments come as Kate Forbes, the Scottish finance secretary, argued it is “unacceptable” that women have to fork out so much for period products. Ms Forbes lent her backing to the legislation.

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Amika George, who successfully campaigned for the government to provide free period products in schools and sixth form colleges, said she hopes the rest of the UK follows Scotland’s lead and makes period products free.

“We are starting to see a shift in the way periods are being perceived,” said the 20-year-old, who launched the Free Periods campaign in 2017. “If it’s not prioritised here by government, we will certainly be looking into it.” 

She added: “It’s a human rights issue.

Universal access is important because it will ensure that the needs of all genders are met in public places. There is such abject poverty in the UK, and wherever there are difficult choices to be made in families of how money should be spent, period products fall to the bottom of the list of priorities. Where it affects young children who end up missing school because they can’t afford to buy them, we know that the consequences of this are long lasting and can affect the entire trajectory of their lives.

“While campaigning, and having had a number of conversations with school nurses, we know that girls have been really reluctant to admit they can’t afford pads or tampons.

That’s a direct result of the stigma around periods, combined with the stigma around poverty.

Girls would be reluctant to even admit to their friends that they can’t afford period products, and that’s a huge shame.”

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