Thursday 28 Jan 2021

Scotland becomes first country in the world to make sanitary products free

Scotland’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation making period products freely available to all. The bill will also require schools, colleges and universities to make a range of period products available for free

| NOVEMBER 25, 2020, 09:59 PM IST
Scotland becomes first country in the world to make sanitary products free

Scotland’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation making period products freely available to all.

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, brought forward by Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon, will bring in the legal right of free access to items such as tampons and sanitary pads.

Under the bill, the Scottish government must set up a nationwide scheme to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge. It will also require schools, colleges and universities to make a range of period products available for free.

The bill will also give Scotland’s devolved government the power to make other public bodies provide period products for free.

“Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a tweet after the vote.

Lennon said the bill was a “practical and progressive” piece of legislation, made all the more vital because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Press Association news agency.

“Periods don't stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important,” she said.

“On the issue of period dignity, I am beyond proud that Scotland is leading the way and we have moved at a fast pace in a short space of time.”

At present, the Scottish Government provided 5.2 million pounds (Rs 51.36 crore) to provide free tampons, pads, and some reusable products in schools, colleges and universities. Another four million pounds (Rs 31.51 crore) was made available to councils so the roll-out could be expanded to other public places.

Scotland, as a constituent country of the United Kingdom, has had its own modern-day parliament since 1999 following a referendum on devolution two years before that. The Scottish government runs the country in relation to matters that have been devolved from the parliament at Westminster, including the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport and taxation.

Around the world, feminine hygiene products are taxed at higher rates. Pads and tampons are often included in standard sales tax brackets

In some countries, period supplies are even declared luxury items before the law and are taxed at rates also applied to items like cigarettes or alcohol

Hungary and Sweden have one of the highest taxes on period products at 27 per cent and 25 per cent respectively

The UK, France, and Cyprus had taxes of around 5 per cent for period supplies by 2018. In the US it is 10 per cent

However, India scrapped its 12 per cent tax on all sanitary products in 2018

Additionally, countries like Australia, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa also abolished all sales tax on sanitary napkins and tampons, recently.


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