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Scotland: First to Make Period Products Free

Last week, Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to grant free, universal access to menstrual products in public facilities as reported by CNN. They will be the first country to do so.

The new Period Products bill include free access to tampons and pads in public buildings, schools, libraries and recreational centers. The bill required a 8.7 million euro investment by 2022. According to survey from Plan International UK, one in 10 girls in the UK struggle to afford menstrual products. CNN also reported 20% of women in Scotland live in poverty.

Lawmakers had been supporting the bill as well as women’s organizations and trade unions. This milestone spreads hope that other countries around the world will follow suit in the same direction. The US, women struggle with the pink tax, being charged more for self-care products, clothes and service based on gender.

In 2018, there was an attempt to combat the pink tax by Rep. Jackie Speier to ensure that products “substantially similar” to each other but serviced to different genders are not priced differently. The bill failed to get passed but the following year 22 states made an attempt to reboot their own period tax repealing laws, none of which became law.

Tampons and pads in the US are not protected under non-luxury exemptions. The New York Times reported 35 states to tax menstrual items. So far only nine states including New York and New Jersey have outlawed tampon taxes, according to NPR. Women still pay significantly more for products. Personal care products are 13% more expensive, clothing is 8% and toys and accessories 7%. The difference in price between men and women’s under is 29%.

Menstrual products should be considered first when deciding to repeal the pink tax. Women do not choose to have periods. On often occasion, it is a pain to pay by coin for a public bathroom pad or tampon when one has a surprise period visit. As much as women are judged and teased for period stains and “keeping clean,” consumerism has not made the ability to keep tampons stocked an easy task. About 21.4 million women in the US live in poverty.

If those women have daughters, they have to pay twice or three times the pink tax to support their menstrual needs. On top of that, women are supposed to visit gynecologists or OBGYN’s regularly for check ups which can be a challenge without healthcare. Many women also struggle with cervical conditions or fibroids which require treatments through either surgery or prescribed medications.

Other countries in England such as New Zealand are taking strides to make menstrual products available and free. As it seems the states will slowly come together to make legislature prohibiting gender discrimination through product selling, lawmakers are now more worried about COVID-19 and the economic crisis, pushing the pink tax father down the agenda.

Featured image by Tama66 on Pixabay

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