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Scottish lawmakers pass bill to make sanitary products free for all women

Scottish lawmakers pass bill to make sanitary products free for all women
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The Parliament in Scotland approved a proposal to make sanitary products available for free to all women, becoming the first country in the world to pass such a measure.

The goal of the policy is to end "period poverty" and enable public places such as community centers, youth clubs and pharmacies to widely offer sanitary products, a provision that may cost up to $31.2 million (24.1 million pounds), according to Reuters.

The measure, called the Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill, received initial approval with 112 votes in favor and none against. The bill will now move onto the second step in which members of the Scottish Parliament can introduce amendments to the legislation.

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Monica Lennon, the bill's leading proponent, said that passage of the bill is a major step for equality, calling it a "milestone moment for normalizing menstruation in Scotland and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality."

Another lawmaker in favor of the legislation asked, "Why is it in 2020 that toilet paper is seen as a necessity but period products aren't? Being financially penalized for a natural bodily function is not equitable or just."

Scotland also became the first country to provide free sanitary products for students back in 2018, a provision that aimed to help an estimated 395,000 students. 

Currently, sanitary products in the United Kingdom are taxed at 5 percent. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron's government set out to end this tax in 2016 but was barred by rules of the European Union, which set tax rates on items such as sanitary products.