NORTH Ayrshire has become the first council in Scotland to end “period poverty” in its secondary schools by distributing free sanitary products to pupils.

With evidence some girls stay home during their period because of a lack of tampons and towels, free dispensing machines have been installed in the nine schools’ toilets.

Launching the initiative at Irvine Royal Academy, Labour council leader Joe Cullinane, said: “Female hygiene products are a necessity, not a choice. No young women should be faced with the embarrassment of improper sanitary protection simply because they cannot afford it.

“It’s an issue that no female should ever have to face - at school, or in their lifetime.”

Headteacher Alison Crawford added: “As a female, I can’t imagine any young girl or woman having to be faced with the issue of ‘period poverty’. I’m proud our schools are providing pupils the support and dignity they deserve.”

Earlier this week, Labour MSP Monica Lennon launched a consultation on a member’s bill at Holyrood that would create a universal right to free sanitary products in Scotland.

The SNP Government is already piloting the distribution of free sanitary products to low-income families in Aberdeen to tackle period poverty.