Periods are a normal bodily function for menstruators across the globe, and continuously purchasing sanitary products can be very unrealistic for those already struggling with daily costs of living.
Amidst global concerns surrounding inflation and the UK cost of living being higher than ever, less and less women are able to afford period products. In fact, 32% of British women are worried they will no longer be able to afford period products.
The Period Products Act introduced by the Scottish Government in 2022 specifies that period products will be made available, for free, in all public washrooms in the country. Scottish Parliament member Monica Lennon believes that period products are a basic necessity which we would agree on, and providing access to them is important for Period Dignity. The Act states that:
- Local authorities must ensure period products are generally obtainable free of charge
- Education providers to ensure period products are obtainable free of charge by pupils and students
- Specified public service bodies must ensure period products are obtainable free of charge by persons in their premises.
Read more about Scotland’s Period Products Act here.
The Act specifies that a reasonable choice of products such as tampons and pads should be available with dignity and ease to menstruators. At Citron Hygiene, we support Period Dignity and menstruators having free access to period products when and where they need them – in the washroom.
The Act builds on the previous established Period Products in Schools (Scotland) Regulations, first introduced in October 2020. The Scottish Government is now providing £3.4 million in 2022-2023 to educational facilities to support students, in accessing free period products.
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Why has this law been introduced?
The law has been introduced to tackle the sad, but very real issue of period poverty. Statistics show that over 50% of girls in the UK reported that they couldn’t afford menstrual products at some point within the last year. Not only this, but 6% of parents have stated that they had been so desperate for access to these products that they had to resort to stealing.
Affording essential period products is becoming increasingly difficult for many due to rising living costs. Fortunately, Monica Lennon has been campaigning about period poverty, aiming to provide women with free sanitary products for several years. The campaign took place over 4 years between 2016 and 2020, and evolved from the feminist ideology that women should be treated equally when it comes to their bodies.
Lennon hopes that more countries will eradicate period poverty altogether by using Scotland as a template for its new law.
Support period dignity in your washroom
Provide free menstrual products to your staff & customers
How to stay compliant with the new law
The enable quick compliance with the new law, the Scottish government has put together guidelines on who should provide free menstrual products and the specific requirements for each body:
Period products must be provided in washrooms
Washroom facilities in Scotland must now provide a supply of sanitary pads and tampons. There is no specification for how this must be administered, but we’d recommend storing products in dispensers instead of baskets as this is far more hygienic. In order to provide menstruators with dignity and discretion, and to prevent the embarrassment or impossible logistics of seeking out period products at an administrative office (or, as we’ve heard in some places, at the concession stand), this has always been the best practice, which is why it is included in the Act.
Ensure washrooms are stocked up
You must ensure that your washrooms are readily stocked with enough supply to cater for demand and to ensure you remain compliant.
How to provide free period products
The law does not stipulate how to store period products. The most common choices are baskets or dispensers. Here are the pros and cons of each method:
A basket requires little installation process and is a very simple way for most locations to start offering free period products quickly. Cross contamination is more likely when using baskets and can become breeding grounds for bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli.
A menstrual product dispenser is the safer option as products can be stored neatly while they reduce cross-contamination as people will only touch the products they use. Hygiene should a top priority in your washrooms and using dispensers will demonstrate that you take hygiene and safety seriously.
Will other regions in the UK follow suit?
The UK abolished the tampon tax in January 2021, which prevented menstrual products from being taxed as luxury items. Before this, menstrual products were seen as non essential items and therefore had a 5% VAT (value-added tax). This was a great step in the right direction in moving towards a nation that treats women’s rights and Period Dignity equally.
Following the free Period Products Scotland Act, protests have taken place in England to bring about the same law. As of now, England’s period product scheme for schools and colleges is all that has been done to crack down on this issue. This scheme is not permanent, with plans for organisations to order until July 2024.
Northern Ireland has since passed the free Period Products Act, so only time will tell if the rest of the UK follows suit. We still have a long way to go in tackling the very real issue of period poverty but businesses, local authorities and educational facilities can all take action.
Tackling period poverty with free sanitary products
All businesses in the UK can play their part in combatting period poverty.
Our Aunt Flow dispenser is the perfect solution for businesses looking to give their washroom users’ access to essential products they need. This free-vend machine dispenses eco-friendly tampons and pads, with a full restocking service from Citron Hygiene.
To get a quote, contact our expert team today.