The MSP fighting to enshrine the fight against period poverty in law has praised Dundee’s strong track record of providing feminine hygiene products to those in need.
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, has proposed a bill that would legally oblige public bodies such as councils and the NHS to provide women with period products free of charge.
It has been suggested that it could work in a similar manner to the C-Card free condom scheme, or on a freely available, ‘no-questions-asked’ basis.
The charity Plan International UK estimates one in ten girls has been unable to afford products and one in seven has been forced to borrow them from friends.
Ms Lennon has welcomed moves by West End councillor Richard McCready to garner local support for the bill.
Ms Lennon said: “Dundee has a trailblazing tradition when it comes to taking action to promote period dignity.
“I was honoured to attend the University of Dundee’s launch of its free period product initiative a few years ago, in advance of national action being taken in the education sector.
“Dundee City Council and local organisations are passionately committed to ensuring no one has to go without period products.
“Endometriosis UK Dundee Support Group does fantastic work which shines a light on the factors, other than lack of money, that affect access to period products.”
The MSP has also been backed by Dundee-born sexual health expert Dr Alison Scott, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Women’s Health Group and chairs expert group the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in Scotland.
She said: “We have free prescriptions and free condoms here in Scotland so promoting dignity and equity for all women through universal provision of sanitary products fits with that agenda.”
Mr McCready has written to local MSPs and Dundee City Council’s fairness spokeswoman Lynne Short asking for formal support of Ms Lennon’s bill.
Some, including co-signatory Jenny Marra, have already vowed to support it at the end of the month.
But SNP government minister Aileen Campbell has suggested universal availability would be prohibitively expensive – and could lead to cross-border runs on the products from England.
Free period products are already offered in Dundee’s schools and leisure centres – funded by the Scottish Government.
But Ms Short is yet to make a solid commitment to backing the bill.
She said: “Periods are natural, period poverty is not. Any universal roll out would not only need to be currently funded but also future proofed so that we could continue to deliver a fair and inclusive Scotland.”