Scotland offers free tampons to women

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The Scottish government has said it will provide women and girls from low-income families with free sanitary products in a bid to tackle period poverty.

Women and girls living in seven regeneration areas in Aberdeen will be offered free tampons and sanitary towels for the next six months as part of a pilot project launched by the Scottish government on Tuesday (11 July).

Anti-poverty activist Ewan Gurr told BBC Radio Scotland that period poverty was a "very pertinent issue" across Scotland.

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"For me personally, it really came into focus a few years ago when a young girl came into the food bank I used to run in Dundee," he told the radio programme.

"She refused feminine hygiene products purely on the basis that she hadn't had a period for a number of months due to malnutrition."

Gurr, who is the Scotland manager of the Trussell Trust, the charity coordinating foodbanks across the UK, told IBTimes UK: "Foodbanks in our network have met women who having been using newspaper, socks or toilet roll instead of sanitary products because they couldn't afford anything more."

"If a family is unable to afford food and has been referred to a foodbank, that household may inevitably include women and girls struggling to access vital sanitary products. For this reason, the vast majority of our foodbanks provide sanitary products," he said.

The issue of period poverty was highlighted in Ken Loach's Bafta-winning I Daniel Blake, where one of the characters shoplifts sanitary products.

The pilot scheme will be launched by equalities secretary Angela Constance later today (11 July) and led by social enterprise Community Food Initiatives North East. The social enterprise's chief executive, Dave Simmers, said the organisation had been given £10,000 to provide free products to 10,000 women for six months.

He said that huge delays in the rollout of Universal Credit meant women were often left without money to buy sanitary products.

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Labour MSP Monica Lennon said the scheme was "a welcome step in the right direction" but stressed that more needed to be done to help women and girls "facing a monthly struggle to access the products they need."

"We need to end period poverty and improve access to sanitary products right across Scotland and that's why I will soon be launching a consultation on a Member's Bill proposal which will give all women in Scotland the right to access these products for free, regardless of their income," she said.

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