Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon has welcomed progress in her campaign to persuade the SNP to examine providing free sanitary products for low income families.

Following questions from Mrs Lennon, Public Health minister Aileen Campbell agreed to meet with charities to explore options to help women and girls who struggle to pay for vital feminine hygiene products. The move follows controversial remarks from SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison who admitted the SNP government had commissioned no specific work to analyse the impact of sanitary products on household budgets and suggested that low income families turn to food banks for sanitary products.

Research has shown that the average woman uses around 12,000 feminine hygiene products in their lifetime and failing to change them regularly has been linked to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome. Monica Lennon has also tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament seeking cross party support and a debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Labour Inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon said:

“The cost of these products is clearly significant and if a household already has financial pressures then access to feminine hygiene products can be a big problem.

Charities Engender, Barnardo’s and Scottish Women’s Aid have told me that access to feminine hygiene products is an ongoing issue for women and girls in poverty. So, I am pleased that the Scottish Government has now recognised that work has to be done to look at the cost of periods to women and girls and the impact on their health.

I will continue to work with local and national charities and women’s organisations to highlight their concerns. I intend to ensure that this issue remains high on the political agenda and I am seeking a members’ debate.”

Lynne O’Brien, Assistant Director Children’s Services, Barnardo’s Scotland said:

“Our services have, in the past, made feminine hygiene products available to women and girls on low incomes because affordability can be an issue for them. We would therefore welcome further exploration of the cost and affordability of feminine hygiene products in order to formulate a clearer picture of the impact this has on women and girls in Scotland.”