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SCOTLAND BECOMES THE FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO ELIMINATE THE COST OF SANITARY ITEMS; WILL INDIA FOLLOW SUIT?

by Juhi Tripathi

Date & Time: Jan 13, 2022 3:00 PM

Read Time: 3 minute



Highlights:

  • Recently, members of the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed The Period Products (Free Provision)(Scotland) Act.
  • The goal of this initiative is to end "period poverty."
  • Lennon said it was "a proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products is possible."

While there are several small-scale programmes that provide sanitary pads at low prices, according to a Nielsen study done in October 2010, 70% of Indian women do not have access to sanitary napkins.

What is in the News?

Recently, members of the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed The Period Products (Free Provision)(Scotland) Act, which requires all public institutions to offer period products, such as tampons and pads, to all persons who require them.

Aim of the initiative

The goal, according to Labour Member Monica Lennon, who has led the grassroots effort for the past four years and introduced the Bill in April 2019, is to end "period poverty."
"The legislation is increasingly important because of the bad impact the pandemic has had on access," Lennon said before the vote, according to the Scotsman. "The next steps will be to eradicate the stigma around periods and to ensure women's health remains on the political agenda," he added.

Lennon Statement

In a video message to Parliament, Lennon said it was "a proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products is possible."
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, praised the measure, saying she was happy to vote in favour of the historic law, which she described as a "essential policy for women and girls."

Is it possible to recreate this in India?

According to a Nielsen poll done in October 2010, 70% of Indian women do not have access to sanitary napkins, despite small-scale initiatives that make sanitary pads available at low prices.
According to the BBC, just about 15% of girls had access to sanitary pads throughout the nationwide lockdown."The Hon'ble Prime Minister also emphasised how Jan Aushadhi Kendras have already distributed over five crore sanitary napkins to women in a short period of time," said Vikas Bagaria, founder of Pee Safe.

"It's a tremendous start by the Scottish government towards eliminating period poverty," Hemender Hoon, managing director and co-founder of Noraa, told about the action by the Scottish government.
While the Indian government has been quite active in eradicating period poverty in rural areas, I believe that similar measures should be expanded to include the urban sector as well.

It may start by focusing on schools and universities, regardless of whether they are private or public, and gradually making basic period items publicly available to anyone who wants them."
There is a "need to broaden the extent of coverage," according to Bagaria. "Governmental support in the form of a bill can bolster these initiatives and act as a catalyst for change in the fight against period poverty," says the author.

Challenges and solution

However, Priyanka Nagpal Jain, founder of Hygiene and You and SochGreen Reusable Period Goods, pointed out that if reusable sanitary products are not promoted, the idea could backfire. "I believe that if such a law is passed (in India), it should primarily encompass reusable products such as menstrual cups and cloth pads." Second, it is unclear if the products will be free to everybody or only to those who cannot purchase them. It should ideally be free just for those who cannot afford it, as this will significantly cut the budget, making the project more realistic. People do not value items that are provided for free.

They'll wind up taking far more than they require, resulting in a lot of waste. "A better approach would be to make reusable period products widely available at a heavily subsidised/non-existent cost for people who cannot afford them," she suggested.

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