Scotland has become the first country in the world to make period products free for all women. The Scottish Parliament unanimously approved the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday. Now, it will be the legal duty of the Scottish government to ensure period items like sanitary pads and tampons are freely available to anyone who needs them.
Monica Lennon, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, first introduced the bill on April 23, 2019. She has been campaigning to end period poverty since 2016. According to Lennon, the Bill will tackle "period poverty", which is when some people who need period products struggle to afford them.
The Bill proposed different ways to make period products (like sanitary pads and tampons) available for free to people who need them. Lennon saw period products as a basic necessity and believes that providing access to them is important for people's dignity.
After the passing of the Bill, Lannon said, "A proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved...Periods products are essential, and now no-one in Scotland will have to go without them."
On average, a period lasting about five days can cost up to eight pounds (Rs 790.38) for tampons and pads in Scotland.
At present, the Scottish Government provided 5.2 million pounds (Rs 51.36 crore) to provide free tampons, pads, and some reusable products in schools, colleges and universities. Another four million pounds (Rs 31.51 crore) was made available to councils so the roll-out could be expanded to other public places.
Around the world, feminine hygiene products are taxed at higher rates. Pads and tampons are often included in standard sales tax brackets. In some countries, period supplies are even declared luxury items before the law and are taxed at rates also applied to items like cigarettes or alcohol.
Hungary and Sweden have one of the highest taxes on period products at 27 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. The UK, France, and Cyprus had taxes of around 5 per cent for period supplies by 2018. In the US it is 10 per cent.
However, India scrapped its 12 per cent tax on all sanitary products in 2018. Additionally, countries like Australia, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa also abolished all sales tax on sanitary napkins and tampons, recently.
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(Edited by: Mansi jaswal)
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