North Ayrshire Council offers free sanitary products

A council is to offer free sanitary products in all its public buildings in a bid to tackle "period poverty".

North Ayrshire Council said it was the first UK local authority to extend free provision to all libraries, community centres and other public offices.

Sanitary products will be offered via vending machines in toilets in up to 100 buildings.

The council was already one of the first to introduce free sanitary products in secondary schools.

Since launching that initiative last August, young woman have benefitted from over 13,000 free sanitary towels and tampons while at school.

'Leading the way'

Council leader Joe Cullinane said: "Sanitary products are a necessity, not a choice.

"I wish for no women or girl here in North Ayrshire to find themselves in the embarrassing and often degrading situation of having to use improper sanitary protection simply because they cannot afford it.

"After all, periods are not exempt from poverty - they don't take account of what is in your pocket or purse. Therefore, it is absolutely right that we should look at ways in which to tackle this gendered inequality."

A recent survey of more than 2,000 people by Young Scot found that about one in four respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access sanitary products.

From this start of this term, the Scottish government is now funding provision of sanitary items at schools and universities. Following a pilot scheme in Aberdeen, it is also funding free availability in some areas to women on low incomes.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who is currently piloting a member's bill at Holyrood to create a statutory duty for free provision of sanitary products, praised the council for "leading the way" on the issue.

She said: "I hope other organisations will follow their lead. No-one should face the indignity of being unable to access these essential products to manage their period."

A consultation on Ms Lennon's bill has attracted the support of 96% of respondents for the proposals to become law.
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