Scotland is the first country in the world to introduce free period products. 

The bill lodged this week will enshrine this policy in law, and ensure that access to free period products is not revoked by future governments. 

It’s the next step in establishing a commitment that no one in Scotland should have to miss school or work because of an inevitable bodily function, or be disadvantaged because of their income or circumstance.

But the legislation is a few steps behind the best practice already emerging. 
Hey Girls is a Scottish social enterprise working hard to end period poverty in the UK. Our work has shown that barrier-free access is essential. 

Periods are still a taboo and poverty is hugely stigmatised. So any kind of requirement to ask for products, sign a form, or persuade someone to unlock a cupboard, makes it more difficult for vulnerable people to access the products.

The best projects just stock their bathrooms with free products and allow people to help themselves, no questions asked – whatever they need, whenever they need it. 

This legislation needs to be about supporting women, not requiring vouchers, and preventing access to folk that really need it.

We also know from our work with schools and community groups that the best way of tackling period poverty is through education.

The likes of Stirling High School haS led the way in increasing access not only to pads and tampons but also inclusive positive conversations about periods instead of shutting them down.

After a six-week pilot, headed up by students, the school reported an 84% increase in student confidence in talking about periods.

Other schools have been creative about making their students part of that process.

Eliminating period poverty is about more than access to products. It’s about ending the stigma that leaves 48% of girls feeling embarrassed by their periods and ensuring all women understand their bodies, and know when to seek medical help if they need to. Above all, it means providing inclusive, positive education about the human body.

The new bill is a great step forward but let’s make sure we’re embedding best practice from the start. Dignified access and education need to be at the heart of everything. Then Scotland will truly be world leading.

- Molly Brown is the education manager for Hey Girls