Around the world, lack of access to sanitary products frequently stops students from going to class. Some students miss days of school, and others drop out completely. One UNESCO report estimates that one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss 20 percent of the school year because of their period.
Research from children's charity Plan International shows that 45 percent of girls in Scotland have had to use alternatives such as toilet paper, socks and newspaper during their periods because they could not afford to buy sanitary products. One survey from grassroots group Women for Independence found that one in five women in Scotland have experienced "period poverty" — a phenomenon in which people struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis, resulting in a negative impact on their hygiene, health and well-being.
In order to address these issues and "banish the scourge of period poverty," the Scottish government approved a £5.2 million ($6.7 million) initiative that will make sanitary products free at all schools, colleges and universities — making Scotland the first country in the world to do so, according to The Guardian.
"In a country as rich as Scotland, it's unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products. I am proud that Scotland is taking this world-leading action to fight period poverty," said Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell in a statement released Friday. "Our £5.2 million investment will mean these essential products will be available to those who need them in a sensitive and dignified way, which will make it easier for students to fully focus on their studies."