Scotland becomes first country to make pads and tampons free

Samantha Kubota
·2 min read

Once a month, women are required to shell out an average of $13.25 on menstrual products, according to a 2019 survey. Over the course of her reproductive lifetime, a woman will spend thousands on pads and tampons.

Now lawmakers in Scotland have decided women in need should no longer have to pay for period products. Tuesday, lawmakers passed a bill that makes the nation the first in the world to do so.

“Scotland will not be the last country to consign period poverty to history, but we have the chance to be the first,” lawmaker Monica Lennon said on Tuesday. Lennon had introduced the bill, which passed 121-0.

The Guardian reports the law will place a legal duty on local authorities to make period products available for those who need them — building on the existing efforts of many local governments that have already started doing so. The bill also makes it law that schools, colleges and universities are required to provide the products for free — an initiative that has been in place since 2017.

“Menstruation is normal. Free universal access to tampons, pads and reusable options should be normal, too. Period dignity for all is not radical or extreme, but is simply the right thing to do,” Lennon said during a debate of the bill earlier this year. One in five women in the U.K. will struggle to access period products at some point in her life, Lennon noted at the time.

Related: "I started realizing a lot of the injustices that exist around something as natural as menstruation," said August co-founder Nick Jain.

There are no federal laws in the United States that mandate free sanitary products for all who need them, though some states have outlawed the “tampon tax." Others have passed laws providing free products in school bathrooms.

A 2019 study commissioned by Intimina found the average woman spends $6,360 over the course of her lifetime on menstrual products. Of those surveyed, 72% felt the government should mandate free period products for all. The survey also found 79% had made sacrifices or gone with less to afford their period necessities.