Scotland is set to be the first country in the world to make period products free to all.
Scottish MPs have backed plans to make products such as tampons and sanitary pads free at designated public places such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies.
The plan passed its first vote in the devolved Scottish Parliament.
The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill was proposed by Scottish MP Monica Lennon, who first submitted a draft proposal in 2017. The annual cost is expected to be around 24.1 million pounds ($47.5 million).
“These are not luxury items,” Ms Lennon said, adding that the bill was about “period dignity”.
“We are changing the culture and it’s really exciting that other countries right around the world are watching very closely to see what we do.”
A consultation document proposed modelling the scheme on the card-based system for free condoms, where users register for a free card or voucher to exchange for the products.
Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s communities secretary, said: “We will continue our world-leading action promoting wider period dignity through a certification scheme to encourage organisations to provide free products.”
In 2018 Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free period products in schools, colleges and universities.
Period products in the United Kingdom are currently taxed at 5 per cent — the so-called “tampon tax”.
Former prime minister David Cameron’s government said it wanted to end the unpopular tax, but said its hands were tied by European Union rules which set tax rates for certain products.
The government announced it would drop the tax in 2016, but this has not happened yet, the issue having been pushed to the sidelines during the Brexit process.
There is no tax on period products in Ireland, Canada, Australia, Kenya, India, Columbia, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uganda, Lebanon and Trinidad and Tobago, the Scottish Government’s briefing on the bill said.
Ms Lennon joined a rally gathered outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, and held a sign which said “Access to menstrual products is a right. Period.”