The legislation requires period products to be available for free in public buildings including schools, colleges and universities

By Georgia Slater
November 25, 2020
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Gustaf Brundin/Getty
| Credit: Gustaf Brundin/Getty

Scotland has become the first country to provide free, universal access to period products after lawmakers passed a landmark bill in Parliament this week.

On Tuesday, the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to pass the Period Products bill, which aims to end "period poverty," a term describing the inability to pay for or easily find menstrual products, according to Today

The new legislation, which builds on existing measures of local governments, places a legal duty on local authorities to make period products available free of charge for those who need them, The Guardian reported.

Under the law, schools, colleges and universities are also required to give the products for free — an initiative that was first announced in 2017.

Monica Lennon, the lawmaker who introduced the bill last year, said it "will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates."

Following the vote, she noted that the decision was "a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved," according to CNN.

The Scottish government estimated that the updated program will cost about £8.7 million ($11.6 million) a year by 2022, depending on how many women use the free period products.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, called it an "important policy for women and girls."

"Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them," she wrote on Twitter.

While the change is a major step forward for women, Lennon said that her work is far from over.

"Once access to period products is secured for all, our next steps must be ensuring women’s health in general remains high on the political agenda in Scotland and that we end all stigma around menstruation,” she told local news outlet The Scotsman before the vote.

The United States has not passed any federal laws that require free menstrual products for those who need them, as Today noted.

Some states, however, have repealed the "tampon tax," which tacked on an additional fee for feminine hygiene and incontinence products.

In 2018, both Nevada and Ohio passed legislation to outlaw feminine product sales tax.

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This story originally appeared on people.com