Free Period Products Reveal How Bodily Autonomy is Limited by Socio-Economic Factors

Background


After extensive grassroots campaigning, Scotland has become the first nation in the world to provide period products for free to all who menstruate. While the practice of providing free period products in public buildings has been widespread for at least two years, the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act will impose a legal obligation on local authorities to make period products available at no cost for anyone who needs them. This comes as research has shown that nearly one in five women have experienced period poverty, while lack of access to period products falls especially hard on trans men, non-binary and GNC people, who are more likely to live in poverty than cisgender people. The scheme will not be means-tested, and will enshrine in law the requirement for schools, colleges and universities to provide products for free, a policy which was announced by Nicola Sturgeon in 2017.


This is a huge step in recognition of the struggles that low-income people who menstruate face, and could make for a really interesting article on how bodily autonomy is affected by socioeconomic factors.


Writing Prompts


  • Low income people across the world suffer disproportionately from attacks on bodily autonomy and reproductive rights through restriction of access to period products, contraception and abortion options. Why is this the case? What historical narratives is this rooted in?

  • Have you ever struggled to access period products? What kind of an impact does this have on education and learning outcomes, employment and promotional opportunities and everyday life?

  • Despite being an incredibly progressive step, the provision of free period products in Scotland has been marketed in very cisnormative terms, as Nicola Sturgeon referred to it as “an important policy for women and girls”, while Monica Lennon has marketed the bill as an essential step in “women’s health” for “women [...] and their daughters” with no mention of the many transmasculine and non-binary people who menstruate. What more needs to be done to ensure that marginalised groups of people who menstruate achieve equal representation in the eyes of the state?


References


Scotland becomes first nation to provide free period products for all | Scotland | The Guardian

Period poverty: Scotland poll shows women go to desperate lengths | Menstruation | The Guardian

Scotland Is 1st Nation to Make Period Products Free - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

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