By Alistair Grant

SCOTLAND is set to become the first country in the world to introduce free universal access to period products.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said her “groundbreaking” Bill will enshrine the dignity of Scots by ensuring no one has to go without essential period products such as tampons and sanitary pads. 

She introduced the legislation to Holyrood in 2019 following years of campaigning and supporters are hopeful it will become law after a final debate and vote in the Scottish Parliament today.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill will ensure free period products can be accessed by anyone who needs them, including in schools, colleges and universities.

It is expected to secure cross-party support despite initial opposition from the Scottish Government.

Ministers previously argued the cost could greatly exceed the estimated £9.7 million a year.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Ms Lennon said: “We are in the final miles of a long journey and I am heartened by the support for the Period Products Bill.

“I am optimistic that we will complete that groundbreaking journey today.

“Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history - but it now has a chance to be the first.

“This law will ensure no-one has to go without essential period products.”

She added: “Thanks to a bold grass roots campaign and cross-party support, Scotland has already taken great strides to improve access to period products.

“Legislation is a world-leading opportunity to secure period dignity for all women, girls and people who menstruate.

“The campaign has been backed by a wide coalition, including trades unions, women’s organisations and charities.

“Thousands of supporters have played a part, including people who shared their experiences of period poverty, and I am grateful to them all.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesman confirmed the party will back the Bill. 

He said: “Nobody should struggle to access sanitary products due to poverty. 

“We have some concerns about the delivery and funding of the scheme, which we will seek to address at stage three.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats’ equalities spokeswoman Caron Lindsay said: “Monica Lennon’s Bill is a welcome next step on the march to stamp out period poverty in Scotland and it is one that Scottish Liberal Democrats fully support.

“It’s unthinkable that anyone in this country is forced to use rags or clothes or miss out on an education when they don’t have sufficient funds to buy sanitary products.

“The SNP equivocated on this bill for months. On Tuesday I hope they will give it their full support.

“This is a small step toward achieving equality.”

Scottish Greens communities spokesman Andy Wightman MSP said: “Access to period products is essential and I am pleased that parliament has the opportunity this week to make free access to these products available universally. 

“I commend Monica Lennon for her commitment to this important cause and look forward to voting for Scotland to become the first country in the world to end period poverty.”

Charities and campaign groups have previously voiced support for the legislation.

Girlguiding Scotland said: “We believe making free period products easily available to everyone who needs them will not only create economic benefits to individuals and families, but will also support girls and young women’s participation in education and extracurricular activities, and help to end the stigma around periods.

“Creating a legal right to access period products is vital to ensure the progress already made in this area is built upon and that future governments cannot undo the welcome work that has already been undertaken.”