Scotland is a high-income country and is among the richest countries in the world. However, poverty has been increasing over the past several years. It has especially impacted women leading to period poverty in Scotland.
What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty is when women do not have access to sanitary products that are essential for day-to-day use like tampons and pads. Women living in poverty often have to make a choice between other necessities and sanitary products. Because of this, despite being a high-income country, many women in Scotland are still unable to afford basic sanitary products.
Period Poverty Surveys
In 2017, the Free Period Scotland campaign launched a survey with twelve questions in order to determine the scope of period poverty in Scotland. Though the pool was limited, of 747 respondents, 8 percent stated that they had limited access to sanitary supplies, 20 percent said that periods had impacted their day-to-day life such as affecting their education as well as other activities, and 4 percent said that they did not have access to any sanitary products.
Other surveys have indicated that the problem may be even greater. According to a survey of more than 2,000 people, conducted by the organization called Young Scot, that included people in varying levels of educational institutions, one in four women have difficulty accessing necessary sanitary products. Of those who participated in the survey, 70 percent have had to use alternatives such as toilet paper in place of sanitary products.
Initiatives to End Period Poverty in Scotland
Last year, the Scottish government established a six-month trial program in the city of Aberdeen. This program was run by the Community Food Initiatives North East. The goal of this trial was to find improved methods of providing free sanitary products to people living on lower incomes. After the pilot had begun, it was expanded to include several educational institutions in order to provide access for students, as well. Through this trial, more than 1,000 women were given free sanitary products.
Due to the success of the trial in Aberdeen, the government is funding an initiative to fight period poverty in Scotland and provide sanitary supplies to women from lower-income households. More than 500,000 euros will be given to the charity FareShare in the hopes of helping essential sanitary products become available to more than 18,000 people. Scotland will be the first country to create a program that gives free sanitary products to women.
The government’s new initiative will not only fight period poverty in Scotland but also represents the first step toward eliminating the stigma and difficulties that accompany menstruation. By providing access to sanitary products to those living on low income and to students in educational institutions, Scotland is changing the lives of thousands of women.
In the coming years, this new program may provide an example to other countries and other programs that will help women of all socioeconomic levels across the world.
– Lindabeth Doby