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Social Justice

You can tell MSPs your thoughts on free period products right now

A consultation has been launched on Monica Lennon’s bill to enshrine in law that period products must be made available for free in primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and more

The campaign to tackle period poverty in Scotland has taken a step forward – and you can tell MSPs just how important the issue is as Monica Lennon’s bill has reached the consultation stage.

Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee is asking for views on the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced by Lennon on International Women’s Day in April.

If passed, it will enable everyone who needs period products to access them free of charge through a Scottish government-run “period products scheme” while products would also be available in primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and more.

Public views will help shape the next stage of the bill with a call for written evidence to be sent to the committee by November 5.

Lennon has been at the forefront of making Scotland a “world-leader” in ending period poverty. Writing exclusively for The Big Issue at the start of her period poverty campaign in 2017, Lennon told us: “If you are trying to survive on a low income, are homeless or have certain health conditions, talking about and managing your period isn’t just awkward, it can be impossible and messy.

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“I’ve been using my voice to raise this in the Scottish Parliament ever since I was elected.”

If the bill comes into force, it will be the latest step forward for period poverty in Scotland.

Last week, the Scottish government marked the six-month anniversary of their current £5 million scheme to offer period products in schools, colleges and universities, reporting that more than eight million free products had been handed out.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “It is important that we encourage people to challenge the stigma around periods and talk more openly about them. Removing the barriers to accessing period products helps that conversation.”

Our social investment arm Big Issue Invest has also played its role in tackling period poverty in Scotland by backing Hey Girls.

The social enterprise, run by Celia Hodson, were celebrating their partnership with Scottish football side Hibernian last week at their Women’s Champions League clash with Slavia Prague.

With the help of BII’s Power Up Scotland initiative, Hey Girls’ environmentally friendly and affordable products, which give a girl or woman a pack of products for every one sold, are now available in Waitrose, Co-op and Asda across the UK.

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