Simply put, when people don’t have access to period products, they don’t show up. In a global poll of 90,000 women from 190 countries, nearly 25 percent of women surveyed had missed school, work, or an event because of their period. A UNESCO report estimates that 1-in-10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa will miss school because of their period, equaling up to 20 percent of any given school year. In Ghana, girls miss up to five days of school a month because they don’t have adequate access to clean facilities or sanitary products at school. Around the world, only 12 percent of young people with periods have proper access to the products they need, including an estimated 50,000 homeless Americans.
The issue of access is not just in developing countries, either. In the US, the "tampon tax” makes access to period products more difficult. In California, for example, women pay about $7 per month for 40 years of tampons and sanitary napkins, adding up to more than $20 million annually in taxes. On the other hand, some US states have passed laws requiring schools to offer free period products.
“Periods are a part of life but they shouldn’t be a point of inequality, compromise someone’s quality of life or be a distraction from making the very most of time spent at university so this is a positive step,” said Susannah Lane, head of Public Affairs at Universities Scotland, in a statement.
The Scottish government says increasing access will not only help students have an equal opportunity at education but will also help to remove embarrassing stigmas behind having a period. An additional £500,000 will be used to distribute period products to an estimated 18,800 low-income people across the country.