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'Good news for everybody' - Scottish MP delighted after period product campaign success

The Scottish MP who led the charge for the country to make all period products freely available is thrilled it was embraced.

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Monica Lennon has been campaigning since 2016 to end period poverty in Scotland. Source: Breakfast

This week, Scotland became the first country in the world to end period poverty. 

Scottish Labour Party health spokesperson Monica Lennon has been campaigning since 2016 to provide period products to women around the country. Over the last three years, the bill gained cross-party support and was approved unanimously.

Speaking to TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, Lennon says it means the world to her.

"Periods are finally being recognised as a normal part of life and we've taken away the worry of managing your period monthly for many women and girls in Scotland," she says. 

"It feels great and I'm just delighted that people have reacted so positively, because periods have been a taboo subject for too long. So hopefully it's a good news story for everyone."

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Scotland becomes first country to make period products free

Already period products are available in schools, colleges and universities in Scotland under law.

The new legislation means it'll be made available by local authorities as well.

"In practice that will be in libraries, which we're doing at the moment, in gyms, leisure centres, it could be at your local pharmacy," Lennon says.

"But of course if you want to still buy them, then you can absolutely do that."

The consultation process found 96 per cent of people supported the bill, the majority wanting the products to be available free and universally to all.

"Period dignity should be at the heart of it," Lennon says.

"And that means no means testing, no need to produce ID and to talk about how many products you need when you're having your period... Privacy and dignity and wellbeing was really at the heart of it."

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Dignity’s Jacinta Gulasekharam says legislation, like Scotland’s, would ensure products are widely available.

When Lennon first began her mission, she says it was a "little bit overwhelming and awkward" to be talking about periods in the male-dominated parliament.

"But it was more awkward for young girls who are having to put toilet paper in their pants or not be able to go to school," she says. 

"I'm just so grateful to everyone who shared their story because it wasn't easy to do that and hopefully now no one has to worry again in Scotland about having to manage their periods."

Meanwhile in New Zealand, the Government promised to roll out free period products to all state and state-integrated schools in June, but it's been delayed.

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Period poverty campaigners disappointed by delay to Government's rollout of free products for students

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Covid-19 crisis made the roll-out "a little more difficult" while the Ministry of Education says the cause of the delay wasn't Covid, but consultation with students.

It's now expected to be available to schools around the country on an opt-in basis from Term 2 next year.