Scotland becomes first country to offer free tampons to those in need

Scotland becomes the first country to offer free period products to anyone who needs them as landmark legislation comes into force

  • Scotland’s Period Products Bill legally protects people’s right to sanitary items
  • Councils and education providers must make them available to those in need  
  • Brought forward by Monica Lennon, the Bill comes into force tomorrow
  • New mobile app highlights more than 1,000 pickup points for the sanitary items 

Scotland will become the first nation in the world to legally protect people’s rights to free period products from tomorrow, when landmark legislation comes into force.  

Under The Period Products Bill, tampons and sanitary towels must be made available by councils and education providers to anyone who need them.

According to the Scottish Government, it has ‘invested more than £27 million to fund access in a range of public settings’, and it says ‘the new law will cement this progress’. 

The Bill, which was brought forward by Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon and passed in November 2020, is intended to eliminate period poverty and help households under financial strain.

It was unanimously approved by MSPs after winning the support of the Scottish Government and the other opposition parties in Holyrood.

Period products including tampons, sanitary towels, and reusable products must be made available by councils and education providers to anyone who need them when landmark legislation comes into force tomorrow

It is hoped that the measures will eliminate period poverty in the country and help households under financial strain. Pictured: A supporter of the Period Products bill at a rally outside Parliament in Edinburgh in February 2020, nine months before the Bill was passed

Speaking when the Bill was passed, Ms Lennon said it was a ‘practical and progressive’ piece of legislation, made all the more vital because of the coronavirus pandemic.    

The Labour MSP, who has been working to tackle period poverty since she was elected to Holyrood in 2016, said: ‘Periods don’t stop for pandemics and the work to improve access to essential tampons, pads and reusables has never been more important.’

She said: ‘On the issue of period dignity, I am beyond proud that Scotland is leading the way and we have moved at a fast pace in a short space of time.’

The Period Products Bill: Where to get free sanitary products

Under the new legislation, Scottish councils can decide the precise measurements put in place when it comes to providing free sanitary products.

However, they have a legal obligation to ensure ‘anyone who needs’ them can access a range of the products ‘reasonably easily’.

The products must be made available by councils as well as education providers. 

Schools, colleges and universities should make them available in toilets. 

People can find their nearest collection point through the PickupMyPeriod mobile app which was launched earlier this year by social enterprise Hey Girls with Scottish Government support. 


Her Bill was passed by 121 votes to zero after winning the support of the Scottish Government and the other opposition parties in Holyrood.

Speaking ahead of the Bill coming into force tomorrow,  Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: ‘Providing access to free period products is fundamental to equality and dignity, and removes the financial barriers to accessing them. 

‘This is more important than ever at a time when people are making difficult choices due to the cost of living crisis and we never want anyone to be in a position where they cannot access period products.

‘Since 2018, we have delivered ground-breaking action by providing free period products for pupils and students in all our schools, colleges and universities. We are proud to be the first national government in the world to take such action.

‘The work we are doing in Scotland continues to be world leading, going goes beyond provision of free products. We have also provided funding for an educational website for employers, run a successful anti-stigma campaign, and improved menstrual health resources available for schools.

‘I’m grateful to all the young women and girls who have been crucial in developing the best ways to access products to meet their needs.’

Social enterprise Hey Girls has created a mobile app, PickupMyPeriod, which will help people find their closest pickup point for the items.

Hey Girls founder Celia Hodson said: ‘The Period Product Act shows Scotland is leading the way in recognising that period products are not a luxury and should be freely available to all.’

She added that the app currently highlights more than 1,000 pickup locations to users.

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