Scotland has become the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all who need them after final approval was given to a landmark piece of legislation in Parliament on Tuesday.
The measure makes tampons and sanitary pads available at designated public places such as community centers, youth clubs, and pharmacies, at an estimated annual cost to taxpayers of 24 million pounds ($32 million U.S.).
The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the Period Products bill on Tuesday, months after lawmakers had initially signaled their support.
It means period products will be available to access in public buildings including schools and universities across Scotland.
According to the new rules, it will be up to local authorities and education providers to ensure the products are available free of charge.
One in 10 girls in the United Kingdom have been unable to afford period products, according to a 2017 survey from Plan International UK.
The survey also found that nearly half of all girls aged 14 to 21 are embarrassed by their periods, while about half had missed an entire day of school because of them.
Scotland’s move follows a string of recent attempts to tackle period poverty in the country.
In 2018, the government announced that students in schools, colleges, and universities across the countries would be able to access sanitary products for free, through a £5.2 million investment.
In 2019, it allocated another £4 million to make period products available for free in libraries and recreational centers.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, posted on Twitter shortly after the vote on Tuesday evening that she was “proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation” which she called an “important policy for women and girls.”
Two years ago, Scotland also made history when it began providing free sanitary products to students at schools, colleges, and universities through a government program.
Wales and England followed last year with similar programs that provide free sanitary products in schools.