Ahead of a key Parliamentary vote on Tuesday, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland has written to all MSPs to reiterate his support for a Bill aimed at ending period poverty.
Welcoming the indications of support from across the Scottish Parliament for the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, Commissioner Bruce Adamson said that “passing legislation that provides universal access to free period products would demonstrate Scotland’s ambition to place human rights at the heart of policy and legislation.”
The Bill, introduced by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, aims to introduce a legal right of access to free products such as tampons and sanitary pads. The Scottish Government has announced it will back the bill with amendments.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Commissioner Bruce Adamson said:
“Members of the Scottish Parliament, acting as human right guarantors, should not only listen but act on the views of the courageous young human rights defenders who have long been campaigning on this issue.
“Universal free provision of period products supports the right to the fullest attainable standard of physical and mental health, with that right extending to adequate hygiene, as enshrined in several human rights treaties including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
“Period poverty has a direct impact on children’s right to an education both in terms of attendance and affecting the ability to access rights to play due to missed PE or sports lessons.”
In particular, the Commissioner highlighted the importance of the proposed scheme being non-means tested as a way of ensuring that young women living in poverty can access the period products they need without stigma or embarrassment.
“We know through our work that children are often acutely aware of their family’s financial situation and many are reluctant to ask for money, in some cases even for essentials.
“Period poverty particularly impacts already vulnerable groups and Scotland has committed to incorporation of the UNCRC, which firmly puts children’s rights into the heart of Scots law. This bill is another step towards Scotland demonstrating to the world its strong human rights leadership.”