EIS calls for free access to sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities

The EIS has joined calls for free access to sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.

Responding to a consultation on measures to tackle the emerging issue of ‘period poverty’, the union has welcomed the suggestion of a Member’s Bill to ensure free access to sanitary products.

Monica Lennon MSP’s consultation followed on from a range of initiatives in educational establishments aimed at addressing the cost and availability of sanitary products, including a scheme for free distribution to all students and staff at South Lanarkshire College and an announcement by North Lanarkshire Council of its intention to provide free products in schools.

EIS President Nicola Fisher said: “The EIS is pleased to see measures to tackle period poverty on the political agenda, and we welcome the idea of a Member’s Bill to oblige Ministers to take action on this issue. In a climate of austerity, with one in five children in Scotland living in poverty, the cost of essential sanitary products is yet another expense that low-income families struggle to meet.

“This is particularly apparent at this time of year, as the Festive season is a particularly challenging time, financially, for many families. Legislation to address period poverty, coupled with the necessary investment, could drive progress forward, with many benefits, including enhancing our young people’s health and wellbeing, and their dignity.”

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS has a long-standing commitment to promoting gender equality, and to highlighting the deleterious impact of poverty on education. Tackling period poverty is an important element of both priorities. The EIS supports the principle of universal free entitlement to these items so that pupils, students and staff can focus on teaching and learning and be safeguarded from stigma.”

The EIS has developed good practice guidelines regarding the distribution of sanitary products in education settings, which will be issued in January 2018 to union reps across Scotland and available for download from www.eis.org.uk/Equality/Gender.htm

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