Politicians, lawyers and LGBT+ groups urgent call on Scottish Government to end period poverty
Anti-poverty campaigners are calling on politicians to back Labour’s plans to end period poverty in Scotland.
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon’s bid to provide universal access to free period products has been backed by more than 30 campaign groups and individuals.
But the Scottish government, led by the SNP, said new legislation is not needed as it believes a targeted approach to providing period products is more cost-effective.
Campaigners are now calling on MSP’s to support the Labour bill, introduced by Lennon, which would provide a legal right to free period products.
Lennon’s plan for universal provision of period products has been criticised for potentially costing more than she has said – her estimate is that the new legislation would cost £9.7 million per year, while the Scottish Government claims it could be £24 million annually.
The Labour politician said she had set out “costings in detail”, based on figures drawn from Scottish Government information. And she said: “In contrast the Scottish Government has not set out workings for how its higher estimated costs have been arrived at.”
LGBT Youth Scotland were among the signatories to the open letter backing Lennon’s Bill to end period poverty, which was signed by campaigners including Amika George, the founder of the worldwide movement Free Periods, and campaigning lawyer Aamer Anwar.
HIV Scotland, Barnado’s, Endometriosis UK and the GMB Union also signed the open letter, which said: “We agree with the principle that ensuring access to free period products to all who need them should be a right, and believe this Bill is an important step towards a fairer and more equal future.
“Women, girls, trans men and non-binary people who have shared their experiences of period poverty and who have given evidence should be applauded for their courage.
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“The support from women’s and LGBT organisations, local government, colleges and universities, trade unions, students and youth organisations, health experts, charities and thousands of groups and individuals across Scotland reflects the widespread support for the Bill.”
Responding to the letter, Lennon said: “I am overwhelmed by the widespread backing this Bill has received from organisations and individuals across Scotland and supporters across the world.
“Period poverty is a reality that causes shame for too many people and stops them fulfilling their potential. No one should have to go to food banks to access essential period products and this Bill provides a solution that builds on the positive work that Scottish Government, local authorities and education partners are already committed to.
“This Bill is about dignity and equality and I’m proud it is supported by women’s, youth and LGBT organisations, trade unions, health experts and a wide range of groups, who all believe in period dignity for everyone.
“Legislation will lock in the progress that has been made so far, and go further by protecting the right to access period products in law.
“I want to work with the Scottish Government and all MSPs so that we can pass this world-leading legislation together.”