Let’s Talk Periods, but Hold the Stigma

Photo Credit: Neat

This past Tuesday, Scotland MSPs have unanimously approved a bill that will make period products free for all. Though the practical arrangements have yet to be decided, it will ensure that anyone who is in need of period products will be able to get them for free. Scotland has been taking strides towards this issue for years to tackle period poverty and period stigma and to create a positive impact on girl’s education. 

Over a dozen mainstream news sources across the globe shared the ground-breaking news with great excitement and positivity. From BBC in the UK, to Brussels Times in Belgium, to Al Jazeera in Qatar, to The Indian Express in India, this has sparked a mass conversation around the world highlighting that Scotland is the first in the world to make such an ‘important policy for women and girls.’ These articles have also mentioned a push for a similar law in their own countries in response to the momentum that Scotland has created. 

The majority of the conversation has been positive as demonstrated in the articles above, mentioning that Scotland has made a revolutionary move upon this decision. However, some are still holding the government in contempt for it. Fellow blogger, Anastasia Lavrenyuk, also highlights contrasting points of view on the topic in Russia. Some also took to Twitter to share their intolerant thoughts on the topic, replying to Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of the bill. Sturgeon is serving as the First Minister of Scotland and is the Leader of the Scottish National Party, the first woman ever to hold either of the positions. In their responses to the tweet, one person highly critical of the source of funding said, “The land of milk and honey. Everything in Scotland is free! No wonder immigrants want to come here. How are we paying for this?…” And another, “Well done on wasting Scottish taxpayer’s money when women can afford to buy them.” 

Another article, while in support of the free products that will aid in ending period poverty, focuses on a different perspective of the story. Kira Taylor, often writing environmental pieces for Euractiv, shows support of ending period poverty, but drowns out the importance of the bill in mentioning the environmental impact that disposable period products have. Taylor tweeted that she believes it is a landmark event, but the focus should be on plastic and chemical use instead. Through this, Taylor negates the bill’s significance in fighting period poverty and instead adds another barrier for those facing it whilst also negatively adding to the period stigma.

Similar to Taylor’s take on the topic, Priyanka Nagpal Jain, founder of a period products organization in India, speaks to the potential of this law in India saying it should instead include reusable products and only be free for those that cannot afford it to make the project “more feasible” because when things are free, people tend to not value them. Or, to make reusable products more available and affordable. Despite being a feminine hygiene advocate and promoting equity and access in her sentiment, this take on the topic is not necessarily helpful for the stigma that it is adding to. 

It is evident there are many layers of this topic that people on Twitter, Kira Taylor, and Priyanka Nagpal Jain are alluding to such as financial sourcing, environmental impact and equitable distribution. But do these varying perspectives on the topic aid to the fight that is trying to be fought? Or do their counter arguments prove to be counter productive? 

Written by Alexis Golden

References:

  1. Al Jazeera. (2020, November 25). Scotland first in the world to make sanitary products free. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from Al Jazeera
  2. Diamond, C. (2020, November 24). Period poverty: Scotland first in world to make period products free. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from BBC
  3. Chini, M. (2020, November 26)  ‘Period poverty’: Belgium called on to make menstrual products free. Retrieved November 27, 2020, from Brussel Times
  4. Indian Express. (2020, November 27). Scotland becomes first country in the world to make sanitary products free; can India follow suit? Retrieved November 27, 2020, from Indian Express
  5. Lavrenyuk, A. (2020, November 28). Free Period Products: Is It Bananas or Cool? Retrieved November 29, 2020, from WordPress
  6. Neat. (2020. January 20). Life changing product: Menstrual cups. Retrieved November 29, 2020, from Neat
  7. Nicola Sturgeon. (2020, November 27). Retrieved November 28, 2020, from Wikipedia 
  8. Sturgeon, N. (2020, November 24). 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. An important policy for women and girls. Well done to @MonicaLennon7 @ClydesdAileen and all who worked to make it happen https://t.co/4lckZ4ZYIY. Retrieved November 27, 2020, from Twitter
  9. Taylor, K. (2020, November 27). Environment must be considered in moves to end period poverty. Retrieved November 27, 2020, from Euractiv 
  10. Taylor, K. (2020, November 27). Scotland’s law to end #periodpoverty is a landmark event, but we need to break the taboo around periods and look into reusable products to avoid unnecessary plastics and chemicals.I talked to @TatiannaZorina and @ZeroWasteScot about this https://t.co/W2VOmWobOP. Retrieved November 27, 2020, from Twitter 

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