Access to free period products
Scotland is the first country in the world to protect in law the right to access free period products for anyone who needs them.
Under the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 (the Act) local authorities and education providers are legally required to make period products available free of charge, as and when they are required. Products must be easily obtained, in a way that respects people’s dignity, and a range of products must be made available.
The Act built on the existing voluntary provisions in education and community settings funded by the Scottish Government since 2018.
Information on how to access period products for free can be found on mygov.scot.
Since 2018 we have invested almost £41 million to fund access to free period products across a range of settings including schools, colleges and universities, wider public spaces and targeted access through community groups for those on low incomes.
The actions we have taken include:
- investing £56,000 in a pilot project from 2017 to 2018 to test need and delivery models for access to free period products
- from 2018 to 2022, providing over £2.4 million to deliver access to free period products to low income families through third sector partners via FareShare
- from 2018 onwards, committing over £6.1 million per annum to local authorities, colleges and universities to provide access to free period products across Scotland in community and educational settings
- demonstrating our global approach through providing funding of around £13,000 to projects in Malawi from 2018 to 2019 and £100,000 to projects in Rwanda from 2020 to 2022, including donating packs of reusable products to school pupils
- providing £50,000 in October 2019 for up to 500 grassroots sports clubs to provide access to free period products for their members, participants and visitors in partnership with sportscotland
- partnering with Zero Waste Scotland to deliver a national media campaign in November 2019 to raise awareness of reusable period products
- from 2019 to 2021, providing funding of nearly £53,000 to develop the ‘PickupMyPeriod’ and myperiod.org.uk website to help people identify locations where period products can be accessed for free in Scotland and provide resources for businesses and employers
- delivering a Let’s Call Periods, Periods campaign in January 2020 to tackle the stigma around menstruation
Bills, legislation and guidance
Building on the existing voluntary provision in education and community settings since 2018, on 18 June 2020, we introduced The Period Products in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which placed a duty on local authorities and grant-aided schools to provide free products for pupils. The Regulations came into force on 19 October 2020.
In November 2020, the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament and unanimously approved by all MSPs. The Bill gained Royal Assent in January 2021.
On 15 August 2022, the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 (the Act) came into force. The Act ensures reasonably convenient access to period products, free of charge, as and when they are required. The Act superseded The Period Products in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
We have published statutory guidance to support responsible bodies in delivering their duties under the Act.
Monitoring and evaluation
Our approach and principles on how we will use evidence and analysis to understand the delivery of free period product policies is outlined in our Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy.
In November 2022, we published a baseline survey findings report on access to free period products. The report helps us understand the views and experiences of people using period products prior to the Act coming into force.
The survey will be replicated in 2025 to assess how views and experiences have changed over time, following implementation of the Act.