Poverty period

Poverty period

An MSP is calling for the Scottish government to provide free feminine hygiene products - saying it is a matter of "dignity" for women who cannot afford to pay.

I, Daniel Blake - a recently released film directed by Ken Loach - includes a scene where an impoverished female character shoplifts a packet of tampons.

Scots scriptwriter Paul Laverty wrote the scene after meeting UK females who struggled to afford essential hygiene products.

A campaign has been launched by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon calling for the Scottish government to provide free female sanitary products "for anyone who needs them".

Not having access to enough products to manage menstrual bleeding effectively is "associated with health risks including toxic shock syndrome", according to Ms Lennon.


Supporters of the campaign, including Mr Laverty, would like to see the products made available free of charge in places such as hospitals, schools and homeless shelters.

A similar proposal has already been approved in New York City.

So what's the proposal?

Ms Lennon has suggested that free female sanitary products should be made available from dispensers installed in public places - such as in female toilets at schools and health centres.

She said she believed this would be the most effective way of ensuring the products were quickly and easily accessible.

However, the MSP could not confirm what the approximate cost to the taxpayer would be - or from which section of the welfare budget the project would be funded.

Poverty period

She told the BBC that her first priority was committing the Scottish government to conduct research into the issue of affordability of feminine hygiene products in Scotland.

The politician added: "We have growing indications that access and affordability is patchy, and not all women have access when they need them."

Supporters of the campaign for free hygiene products were also considering other proposals.

Ewan Gurr, of the Trussell Trust, said: "I would like to see [disadvantaged] women [of menstruating age] receive government support equivalent to that provided to young families in the form of "healthy start" vouchers - which can be used to buy milk, formula, fruit and vegetables."

How has the government responded?

The Scottish government has neither committed to providing free female sanitary products, nor commissioned an assessment of the affordability of women's sanitary products.

However, it has participated in ongoing discussions with charities, including the Trussell Trust, regarding the affordability of feminine hygiene products and the health challenges that can arise when women and girls do not have access to these.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We have made significant investment in a range of other services to support people on low income or facing acute income crisis and tackle the underlying causes of poverty."



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