[The Sexuality Blog] Scotland just became the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products

Reproductive health is a huge drain on the incomes of women. Especially for economically disadvantaged women everywhere in the world. It is so bad that in Nigeria, there is information that suggests that economically disadvantaged teenage girls lose about 8 days of schooling a month because they cannot afford sanitary pads and/or tampons and the medicine for women with period related disorders, essentially disrupting their education enough that they end up with poor grades. This doesn’t even factor in older homeless women who face higher risk of disease due to lack of access to sanitary products and sanitary ways of dealing with periods and disposing of period blood.

For decades the feminist movement has argued for sanitary products to be either subsidised or outrightly provided for free by the government. In Nigeria, non-profits like Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls (SANG) have stepped in to fill the gap for disadvantaged girls in secondary schools and Internally Displaced People’s (IDP’s) across Nigeria. But in Scotland, the government is finally listening and acting on what should be a fundamental right.

Working Scottish Non-profit Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) the Scottish government is rolling out a test program that offers free sanitary products to economically disadvantaged women through women’s health and housing charities as well as four schools in Aberdeen, with plans to expand the program to the rest of the country depending on how successful the test program is. It is in response to reports by charities across the United Kingdom officially implemented to provide free sanitary products to countries in Africa that local British, Scottish and Irish school girls are avoiding school because their families cannot afford sanitary pads and tampons. The matter got to the British House of Lords and Commons and started the snowball of reactions that has led to this test program.

The sexual health problems of women are universal, even in seemingly progressive countries and it is great to see that someone is listening and taking action.

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