Group defends hiring man as period dignity officer

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Jason GrantImage source, Grainger PR
Image caption,
Jason Grant was hired to help implement the legal right to free period products in Tayside

A group in Tayside has defended its decision to appoint a man as a period dignity officer.

Jason Grant's hiring sparked a heated online debate, with critics saying the job should have gone to a woman.

He will work with the area's period dignity working group to implement the legal right to free period products in public settings.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova described it as "absurd", while actress Frances Barber said she was "fuming".

Susan Dalgety, a newspaper columnist and women's rights campaigner, tweeted: "I have no idea why anyone thought it was a good idea to appoint a bloke."

SNP MP Ian Blackford said a woman would be better for the role.

He told Sky News: "I think it's important that we get the policy right, I think it's important that we implement it and I would have thought, as a principle, it would be far better that women are in these posts than anyone else.

"It's a policy that we should all be proud of. At the end of the day, I think there should be a priority of having women in place in these posts."

Mr Grant is expected to lead a regional campaign across schools, colleges and wider communities to raise awareness of the new law and ensure that Scottish government funding is allocated appropriately.

The job advert said the suitable candidate needed a "successful track record of engaging and empowering a large range of people from a diverse range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, in particular young people who menstruate".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
New legislation came into force in Scotland on Monday

Mr Grant will also discuss issues around menopause as part of his role.

The period dignity working group, which has representatives of Dundee and Angus College, Perth College, Angus Council and Dundee City Council, said Mr Grant was the strongest candidate for the job.

A spokesperson said: "The role builds on some fantastic work which has been gathering speed across the Tay region for several years, led by a passionate group of people of all genders, ages and backgrounds.

"By changing the culture, encouraging debate and removing the stigma around periods, we look forward to supporting the delivery of this important work across the region."

The spokesperson added that Mr Grant would not comment on the controversy over his appointment.

No government involvement

Mr Grant previously worked as an account manager with Imperial Tobacco.

He then became a personal trainer with his own business and was recently a wellbeing officer for Dundee and Angus College.

The 24-month role as period dignity officer has a salary of up to £36,126, with the post being funded by the Scottish government.

However, a Scottish government spokesperson said it "did not have any involvement in these posts or appointments".

They added: "Some local authorities are appointing staff to ensure they are complying with their new duties and making free products in line with the act, ensuring there is information available on where to access the products, and also tackling issues such as the stigma that still surrounds accessing period products."

On Monday, new legislation came into force in Scotland protecting the right to free sanitary products.

The Period Products Act means councils and education providers have to make the free items available to those who need them.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon campaigned for the legislation, which was unanimously backed in the Scottish Parliament in 2020.

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