'Time is right' to end period poverty in Scotland

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An MSP campaigning to end period poverty in Scotland has said the "time is right" for Holyrood to pass legislation to tackle the issue.

Labour's Monica Lennon said Scotland could "lead the world" by passing her member's bill for a universal system offering free sanitary products.

It follows research suggesting one in four women struggle to access products.

The Scottish government says it is committed to free sanitary provision in schools, colleges and universities.

It comes as a survey to coincide with International Women's Day found that about one in four respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access sanitary products.

'What they need'

The survey of 2,050 people by Young Scot found 71% had been forced to ask someone else for a tampon or pad, while 70% said they had used toilet paper as an alternative.

A consultation on Ms Lennon's Sanitary Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill has attracted the support of 96% of respondents for the proposals to become law.

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image captionA pilot scheme has been operating in Aberdeen to help women on low incomes

Ms Lennon said: "Proposals to end period poverty in Scotland have been met with overwhelming public support. The time is right to legislate - Scotland can lead the world on this."

She added: "Access to sanitary products should be a basic right, but sadly in Scotland we know not everyone can afford or obtain what they need."

Ms Lennon is now required to collect at least 18 signatories across three political parties for her bill to move forward at Holyrood.

'Re-usable sanitary products'

The Scottish government funded a pilot in September last year to provide tampons and towels to women and girls on low incomes in Aberdeen in an effort to tackle period poverty.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said that scheme would be extended until later in the year to allow ministers to analyse data gathered from the pilot.

image captionThe Bloody Big Brunch urges people to pay for a Bloody Mary drink with sanitary products

Speaking at Holyrood she said: "The pilot in Aberdeen is helping us to better understand the barriers that some women face when it comes to accessing sanitary products, and how we could make free products easily accessible to those who need them.

"Our six-month pilot in the north east is coming to an end, having successfully recruited over 1,000 women.

"I'm particularly encouraged by the interest the pilot has generated in reusable sanitary products, which are environmentally friendly and financially sustainable.

"We have begun to analyse the information collected during the pilot and the final reports are expected over the summer."

Campaigners on the issue will be hosting the UK's first ever Bloody Big Brunch in Glasgow on Saturday.

The event will see people pay for a Bloody Mary drink with sanitary products, which will then be donated to the Trussell Trust.

Those who are unable to attend the event at The Wee Guy's in Cochrane Street are being encouraged to hold their own brunch in aid of the cause.