I was wading through my emails and came across one about period poverty. It caught my eye knowing how hard it is for the women who come to Bonnies’ to afford sanitary products. Scotland’s government is making a new law for sanitary products to be free – the first nation to do so. I never thought I would see the day that this would happen. This gives hope that the Australian government and in fact all governments can do the same.
The article pointed out that the Scottish government, by taking this step, is taking gender equality seriously. I hadn’t thought about sanitary products in this way before. It also said that it isn’t fair and is discriminatory to charge for sanitary products. Monica Lennon, one of the bill’s proposers reportedly said “Access to menstrual products is a right. Period.” I thought “Hey yeah it is!”.
Toilet paper can be found in every toilet in Australia. We don’t even think about it. Everyone gets toilet paper to assist with the bodily function of waste. So why do women have to pay for sanitary products. Menstruation is a bodily function too.
Those impacted the most by the cost of sanitary products are women struggling to feed their children and the homeless, or girls not wanting to go to school in case of embarrassment. This has become known as “Period Poverty”. Critics argue that only the poor should receive free sanitary products but how can it be means-tested? And is it fair?
“In 2020, it is unacceptable that male policymakers are still leaving women facing shame, discomfort and isolation by denying us free access to a necessity.” Vivienne Hayes, CEO of Women’s Resource Centre, UK.
Free condoms, nicotine patches, and many other services are provided by governments so why not sanitary items which impact 50% of the population? Women cannot live without sanitary products. They are a necessity.
As a young woman states in a video by the Scottish government, “The way I see it, if you want something to change, you can’t just hope someone else will fight for it, we have to stand up for what we believe in, together.”
Indeed, this is the only way things have changed and continue to change in the world.
Written by Sandra, Image by areta ekarafi