Scottish women can access free tampons through pilot program

The government of Scotland has just launched a pilot project that provides free sanitary product to low income women and one MP says she's ready to start crafting the idea into law.

MP says she's drafting a bill to guarantee access to sanitary products in schools

Canada removed the GST from tampons and sanitary napkins as of July, 1, 2015 but many advocates say women in need should be guaranteed access to sanitary products. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A member of the Scottish Parliament is pushing for a bill that would make female sanitary products free for women in need.

Monica Lennon, of the Scottish Labour party, said she wants to make sure "period poverty" doesn't stop women from engaging in the workforce or studying at school.

"Periods should never be a financial burden on women, ever," Lennon told Gloria Macarenko, guest host of CBC's On the Coast.

Scotland is conducting a six-month pilot project that provides free menstruation-related products to women considered low income who are in "immediate need."

The government said results from the pilot will inform future nationwide approaches to the issue.

Draft bill planned

"We found women in ghettos having to go without or using tampons and towels for far too long or using other items like rags or toilet paper, newspaper, socks," said Lennon. "Really horrendous examples."

Lennon said she wants to learn from the pilot project as well as other, independent research to help her draft a bill on the issue within a matter of weeks.

In Canada, the previous Conservative government exempted female sanitary products from the Goods and Sales Tax in 2015 after NDP MP Irene Mathyssen sponsored a private member's bill on the matter.

As to whether or not free tampons and other period-related products make sense in Canada, Lennon said it's not her place to tell other countries how to deal with the issue.

The bill Lennon plans to propose will also make it mandatory for schools and universities to provide sanitary products at no cost.

She added that the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has been supportive and, in general, there's been very little opposition to the idea.

"I think people have realized that there's no need to feel embarrassed about menstruation and periods."

With files from CBC Radio One's On the Coast