Sanitary products are to be introduced free at the Scottish Parliament building with immediate effect it has been confirmed.
The move means all women, whether visiting the Parliament or working at Holyrood, will have access to free towels or tampons.
Recent campaigns have highlighted issues around the accessibility, affordability and VAT on sanitary products, but today’s decision from the all-party Scottish
Parliamentary Corporate Body is “a win for gender equality” says Kezia Dugdale MSP and SPCB member.
Announcing the free availability of sanitary products in all 42 women’s toilets across Holyrood, Kezia Dugdale said:
“Menstruation and menopause continue to be taboo subjects and women often find it difficult to access sanitary products during the working day. Despite half of the population experiencing menstruation at some point, very few workplaces have taken steps to become period-friendly and that’s why I’m pleased the Scottish Parliament is leading by example.
“Whether you work at Holyrood, are a visiting member of the public or are here with classmates on a school trip, you will have fuss-free access to sanitary products should you need them. Periods are a part of life and good workplace policies like this are good for staff health and wellbeing.”
Kezia Dugdale concluded:
“I’m proud the Scottish Parliament is committed to equality and I hope other employers and public buildings will follow suit.”
The cost of providing free sanitary products in the Holyrood building is expected to be between £2,000 to £3,000 a year.
The introduction of free sanitary products in all parts of the building follows on from an ‘honesty box’ initiative by staff on the Parliament’s Women’s Network.
The honesty boxes worked on a goodwill basis of ‘replace what you use’ as soon as possible, but wasn’t considered sustainable for toilets in public parts of the building where visitors may visit only once or infrequently.
Monica Lennon MSP wrote to the SPCB in February highlighting the popularity of the honesty boxes but called on the SPCB to formally adopt the provision of free sanitary products in all women’s toilets across the Parliament.
Gillian Martin MSP has also been a leading campaign voice on the issue.