Earlier this week, Scotland became the first country to make sanitary products free to all women and put an end to the crisis of period poverty in the country. The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill passed unanimously and was described as an important policy for women and girls by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. This essentially means that tampons and sanitary pads are being made available at designated public places like community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies. However this is coming at annual cost of 24 million pounds (32 million dollars) which is coming from taxpayers.
The policy can and should be adopted by countries like Malawi where individuals are forced to explore other methods of sustaining themselves throughout their menstrual cycles. Malawian women were previously provided with funding to help them make and sell reusable sanitary products in their communities and while this is a step in the right direction towards ending period poverty in the country, women are still faced with the issue of having to purchase sanitary products if they cannot manage to make them on their own. Some organisations have come together to ensure that as many women as possible are able to make these reusable sanitary products on their own however if a policy was implemented to make sanitary products available free of charge in public places then this would further reduce the number of women that face the struggle of having to go through a period without the appropriate menstrual materials.
We were able to receive a statement from Zilanie Gondwe and she says “For girls and women of any age, ethnic or social group, period time is extremely stressful and often painful, no matter what products you use. Every one of us worries about leaks and staining our clothes. It’s therefore an actual living hell when you can’t afford basic pads. Malawi schools barely have suitable sanitation. Even poorly paid women teachers struggle. Suitable menstrual hygiene products will give 1) dignity, confidence and increased hygiene 2) access to education and closer to ones dreams and brighter futures. Free sanitary products will LIBERATE girls from the prison of period poverty!”