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Period poverty: Scotland Ayrshire to give free tampons to tackle period poverty

6:34 pm, 17th August 2018

In an attempt to tackle period poverty, the council said that women and girls would be given free sanitary towels and tampons via vending machines in toilets in public premises.

It comes after the service was made available in secondary schools in the council region this month.

The 2016 film I, Daniel Blake, highlighted the issue of the affordability of sanitary products to greater attention and helped inspire Scotland’s pilot scheme.

Studies have shown that period poverty is a particularly acute problem in Scotland.

Plan International UK, a girls’ rights charity, found that 45% of respondents were obliged to use makeshift sanitary wear.

Some women were reduced to using newspaper and socks.

The problem affects one in 10 in the UK overall – growing alongside the numbers of poor and the use of food banks.

But the campaign for women’s menstruation to be treated more openly has come to the fore – alongside broader concerns about degrading and abusive treatment for women.

“If it isn’t a subject that people talk about, then it isn’t something girls can simply ask for,” said Gabby Edlin, chief executive and founder of the charitable project Bloody Good Period.

She added that public authorities addressing the issue directly by providing sanitary products was revolutionary.

“It’s a human rights issue too, because some girls are unable to attend school because they can’t manage their periods,” she said.

The Scottish government piloted a plan to tackle period poverty in Aberdeen last year when it distributed free products to more than 1,000 women.

Ministers later provided the charity FareShare with more than £500,000 to extend the scheme which aimed to reach more than 18,000 people.

It was said to be the first national government-sponsored effort of its type.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon welcomed the extension of the scheme, calling for statutory requirement to ensure free provision in schools, colleges and universities.

She said it was a duty of the Scottish government to “deliver a free universal system of access” to sanitary protection.

There is also legislation pending in the Scottish parliament that would create free provision of sanitary products across Scotland.