North Ayrshire Council aims to make period poverty history
Posted on 17 Aug 2018
North Ayrshire Council is leading the way in the fight against period poverty by becoming the first local authority in the UK to offer free sanitary provision in all of its public buildings.
Females across North Ayrshire will be able to access a free supply of sanitary products in places such as libraries, community centres and public offices.
The groundbreaking initiative aims to address the growing issue of ‘period poverty’ which sees females across the country use unsuitable items, or nothing at all, to manage their period simply because they cannot afford the proper products.
Indeed a study by girls’ rights charity, Plan International UK, found 45% of respondents living in Scotland said they had no choice but to use makeshift sanitary wear including newspaper and socks in place of sanitary towels and tampons because of financial difficulty.
The Council has already made the headlines on the issue when it became the first local authority in the UK to introduce free sanitary products within its secondary schools.
Since spearheading the initiative last August, young woman have benefitted from over 13,000 free sanitary towels and tampons while at school.
Their decision to extend the programme into the wider community will see the introduction of free sanitary products in up to 100 of its buildings.
Women will be able to access the sanitary wear via vending machines located in the toilets.
Marking this significant step in their efforts to tackle period poverty, the Council Leader Joe Cullinane made a visit to a local library to chat to users on the impact this announcement will have on the lives of local residents who may be struggling to make ends meet.
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.
“This latest announcement in our period poverty programme aims to help address the issue and make period poverty history in North Ayrshire.”
Councillor Cullinane was joined at Kilwinning Library by Monica Lennon MSP, a leading figure in the fight against period poverty. Monica is currently progressing the Sanitary Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill which, if introduced, would create a statutory duty for free provision of sanitary products across the country.
Monica Lennon MSP, added: “Councillor Cullinane and North Ayrshire Council are leading the way on ending period poverty. Access to sanitary products should be a right, regardless of your income, which is why I am moving ahead with plans for legislation to introduce a universal system of free access to sanitary products for everyone in Scotland.
"I'm delighted that North Ayrshire will extend free sanitary product provision to all of its public buildings and 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.”