In an effort to end “period poverty,” the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday moved Scotland a step closer to becoming the first country in the world to to provide free sanitary pads and tampons in public places.
The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill passed 112-0, with one abstention. If the bill moves past the second phase, where legislators propose amendments, free menstrual products will be available in places such as pharmacies, community centers and youth clubs.
Menstrual products are currently taxed as luxury items.
The cost of the legislation is estimated to be $31 million a year. Scotland has already made strides in ending the 5% “tampon tax.”
In 2018, the country created a national policy that ensured free pads and tampons in schools and universities. The European Union plans to remove a sales tax on menstrual products by 2022 and let individual countries decide the prices.
“(This) is a milestone moment for normalizing menstruation in Scotland, and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality,” the bill's sponsor, Monica Lennon, said during Parliament’s debate. “We are changing the culture, and it’s really exciting that other countries right around the world are watching very closely to see what we do.”