Minister backs call to end "period poverty"

A Church of Scotland minister has welcomed proposals to make the country the first in the world to provide universal free access to sanitary products.

Rev Jane Howitt, minister of St Rollox Church in Glasgow, said “no woman should be having to decide whether or not she can afford her monthly period”.

The congregation has been including sanitary and hygiene products in food parcels for destitute asylum seekers and others for several years.

The Church of Scotland is involved in the operation of foodbanks the length and breadth of the country.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon today launched a public consultation on a proposal to create a law which would put a duty on Scottish Ministers to introduce a universal system of free provision of sanitary products.


Ms Howitt said: “For the last few years at St Rollox, we have been including sanitary and hygiene products in the food parcels we give to destitute asylum seekers and to others who use our foodstore.

“Realising the cost of sanitary towels and tampons, we decided that for women and girls such products are every bit as essential as food items and by providing them we contribute to the dignity and well-being of those in need.

“When you are living on £35 a week spending up to £8 of that on sanitary products in the week of your period is almost 25% of that week's allowance.”

Rev Jane Howitt

Ms Howitt said foodstore users“greatly appreciated” that St Rollox Church provided a free supply of nappies and sanitary products in the toilets.

“The proposals put forward today are to be welcomed and will hopefully put an end to period poverty and a hidden inequality that affects the confidence and lives of many women and girls,” she added.

“In 21st century Scotland, surely no woman should be having to decide whether or not she can afford her monthly period.

“Any measure to relieve this type of poverty is surely to be supported.”

The Scottish Government recently launched a pilot scheme in Aberdeen where low income women and girls are to be offered free sanitary products.