If you’re a person who uses period products every month, you are surely aware of how expensive they are. On average, people in the United States spend $13.25 a month on menstrual products. Most will spend thousands of dollars on period products in their reproductive lifetime, and those who can’t afford these prices are forced to decide between buying a box of tampons or using that money for a different need. For decades, people who use pads, tampons, or other menstrual products on a regular basis have had to pay high prices for a sanitary necessity.
Most people have had an uncomfortable conversation or two about periods due to the topic's stigma in today’s world, despite how common and normal having a menstrual cycle is. As a person in high school, I have felt shame from my peers after dropping a pad on the floor on my way to the bathroom, which I think no one should have to go through. While we find other sanitary necessities to be free to those who need them, period products are overlooked as a thing that more than half the global population needs due to their controversy. Periods have been considered taboo in most countries for far too long, which is why we should celebrate new happenings in the world of better access to free period products.
As some of us have seen on our social media feeds, Scotland recently became the first nation to make period products free, which will cover over 30 million dollars worth of products in the next year. Today, Scotland Parliament recognizes period poverty and the high prices of period products as an injustice against those who have periods, and they are actively working to make period products considered a necessity on a national scale. Thanks to Monica Lennon, a hero who has fought hard for a bill providing proper access of period products to all Scottish citizens, as well as the Girl Guides of Scotland, the Period Products Act has been created. This act calls national representatives to make sure that period products are available to anyone who needs them, and that there are public resources to supply those necessities.
In addition, Scotland is now required to supply all schools and universities with products, and is now working to make sure its restrooms have free products available for public use. This is a huge step for the rights of all people with menstrual cycles. It is work like this that helps to normalize and encourage the conversation around period poverty, the Pink Tax (causing a discrimination in pricing for women’s products and sanitary items), and periods in general! Although Scotland may be the first nation to legalize national access to period products, we know that from the work of other hard-working activists like Monica Lennon that they will not be the last!
Especially during a worldwide pandemic, the need for period products and better access to reproductive healthcare is rising. Moving forward, us Mainers and Americans can hope that our own government will find inspiration in what Scotland has done for its people. I hope that in light of our recent election, we will have more chances to demand better access to period products and period equity, as it’s such an important issue.
If you want to help push for those who face period poverty and inequity, simply talking on social media or with friends and family about the need for normalizing periods and access to products makes a huge difference. There are a handful of easy things you can do to help those without access to proper period products and continue the conversation:
- Buy your own products from companies that help to end period poverty, such as Always and U by Kotex, which partners with the Alliance for Period Supplies.
- Donate period products to local shelters and food banks, or even start a product drive in your own school or workplace.
- Consider learning more about and donating to charities that support this cause, like The Homeless Period, The Red Box Period, PERIOD, Dignity Period, Days for Girls, and Freedom4Girls.
- Sign petitions listed to the right side of this page.
- Check out Glamour’s list of 8 actions you can take here!