Period poverty is when women and girls do not have access to safe and clean period products and/or do not have the tools to manage their periods confidently. One of the many countries that face this issue is Scotland. Victoria Heaney created the Free Period Scotland movement to address period poverty in Scotland.
What Started Free Period Scotland?
The Free Period Scotland movement was created with the purpose to make period poverty a regularly discussed topic by Scotland’s government and continue menstruation conversations across the nation. In addition to placing pressure on Scotland’s officials, the research allowed women to admit the harsh reality of period poverty openly. The survey played a role in Scotland becoming a leader worldwide for period poverty protection. Scotland now provides free period products to all women.
Heaney’s interest came from the fact that this form of research is not common in Scotland. At the beginning of the study, she discussed on the podcast “The Snash with Jenny Cook” that she heard stories where women were using old socks as pads due to not being able to afford period products. When Heaney began researching the issue, no research was available on period poverty in Scotland.
Discovering a lack of research on period poverty was surprising because half of the world’s population menstruates. Heaney’s passion for this project led her to teach herself how to do a survey. Her survey focused on the quantity and quality of the experiences.
The Women for Independence committee conducted the research, which was led by Heaney. More than 1,000 women participated in the research survey. The quantitative findings revealed that nearly one in five participants claimed to go without period products because they could not afford them. The research also showed that one in 10 women had to choose between food and period products. In addition, 22% of participants said they were not able to change their period products regularly.
Not only did the survey produce shocking statistics, but it also offered a clearer picture of period poverty in Scotland. Heaney wished to use the research to better examine the stigma that surrounds menstruation for women of all ages. The study revealed that women over the age of 55 reported experiences that were alarmingly similar to teenagers. Free Period Scotland plays a significant role in the Scottish government’s legislative efforts and its bill granting free period products.
One of the many ways to help reduce period poverty is raising awareness of the issue, whether through research or social media campaigns. The more discussion about the negative stigmas surrounding menstruation, the more support will be gained in fighting against this global injustice. Victoria Heaney and the Free Period Scotland Movement have made tremendous leaps for women facing period poverty in Scotland. With support from advocacy groups, NGOs and the government, Scotland is taking one step closer to ending period poverty.
– Nyelah Mitchell