At least 1,000 women and girls from low-income Aberdeen homes are set to receive free sanitary products as part of a new pilot scheme.
The Scottish Government is backing the six-month project with £42,500 of funding.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance announced the initiative today while visiting Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), the social enterprise which will be leading the pilot.
CFINE seeks to improve health and wellbeing for those in poverty in the Grampian area and have established relationships with local partners through the FareShare surplus food network.
She said: “It is unacceptable that any woman or girl in Scotland should be unable to access sanitary products. That is why, as part of our wider aims to eradicate poverty from our country, we are exploring how to make products freely available to low-income groups.
“The pilot in Aberdeen is a first step to help us understand the barriers women and girls face – and to help us develop a sensitive and dignified solution to making these products easily accessible to those who need them.”
The pilot will ensure access to sanitary products for local women in seven regeneration areas of the city and inform the future approach to the issue across Scotland.
Regeneration areas within the city include Torry, Northfield and Tillydrone.
Dave Simmers, CFINE CEO, said: “This is a very welcome development and CFINE is delighted to be involved. CFINE and our 60 partner organisations engaged in Food Poverty Action Aberdeen are very aware of the cost and challenges of accessing sanitary products for many girls and women from low-income households.
“Over a woman’s lifetime, sanitary products cost on average more than £5,000, a significant sum for those on low-income. Many cannot afford them and may use inappropriate methods or miss school. The findings of this pilot should be very useful in informing future action by the Scottish Government.”
In April, Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin suggested the concept of an S-Card, based on the existing C-Card which gives free access to condoms.
The proposal would see the creation of a card that could be issued and shown at a local pharmacy, supermarket or GP practice for free access to sanitary wear.
The suggestion put forward by Ms Martin to the Cabinet Secretary was that the S-Card would be available to all women and not means tested.
During a debate in the Scottish Parliament earlier this year, the First Minister agreed sanitary products are a “necessity” rather than a luxury. She added the Scottish Government was looking at a number of ways to help with the issue of “period poverty”.
Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon, who raised the issue at Holyrood, said it was an “uncomfortable truth” that some women and girls in Scotland couldn’t afford essential sanitary products and called on the government to take action.