If a bill introduced to their parliament is successful, Scotland might be the first country in the world to make all sanitary products free through facilities in all schools, universities and colleges. The news come right after two South Australian high schools installed free sanitary vending machines on their campuses.
Reports from both the UK and Australia show that female students are missing school during their periods because sanitary product are unaffordable and unavailable. This also shows to be more common within remote Indigenous Australian communities, where girls are often found to use toilet paper, socks or rags as replacements.
The reports also show that law-abiding girls were forced to steal pads rather than purchasing them as a result of unaffordability.
While several Australian schools have started providing these items, there is no nation-wide program to ensure students have access to it. If the Scottish bill is successful it will make the country a world leader regarding the issue, and hopefully more countries will follow in their footsteps.
Earlier this year a bill to merely remove the sanitary product taxes was voted down in the Australian federal Senate, so making the products free in schools and universities nation-wide might be a bit of a long-shot. But individual schools taking initiatives to make young girls’ lives easier might just start a chain-reaction.
In a generally well-off country like Australia it is easy to forget that not everyone has the extra money to afford these products. Sanitary products need to be accessible to girls and women everywhere, because menstruation shouldn’t be a barrier to your daily life.