Earlier this fall, I wrote about the intensifying effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on “period poverty,” the inability to obtain menstrual products. Now, I’m thrilled to share an exciting development in the fight for free and equal access to menstrual products worldwide.On Nov. 24, the Scottish Parliament made history by voting to pass a bill that ensures free period products will be available to all.\nFirst introduced as a draft bill in February by lawmaker Monica Lennon, this bill creates a legal duty for local Scottish officials to ensure that tampons and sanitary pads are available universally free of charge. Education providers must also ensure that period products are available in school toilets, and the law allows Scottish ministers to call upon other public service bodies to provide free period products. With an estimated cost of about 24 million pounds per year (around $32 million USD), this law is the first in the world to provide free, universal access to all citizens who need period products.\nThis law is not only historic because of what it accomplishes for people who menstruate, but it is also remarkable for its unanimous passing. This collaborative effort sent a clear message to the people of Scotland that all people who menstruate have a government that cares about their well-being and thinks that safe access to period products is a right which every citizen should have.\n“We have shown that Parliament can be a progressive force for change when we collaborate,” Lennon said before the final vote, as reported by the New York Times. “Our prize is the opportunity to consign period poverty to history. In these dark times, we can bring light and hope to the world.”\nIn these dark times, we can bring light and hope to the world.Monica LennonIn a time with high political polarization in the United States and abroad, Scotland’s support from across the political spectrum proves to the rest of the world that we can and should end period poverty.\nDiscussion of the bill also included topics that are normally excluded from government. As described in a recent National Public Radio article, members of the Scottish Parliament discussed topics such as endometriosis and heavy bleeding, as well as why toilet paper bins for period products are required while the products themselves are not. Although small, these sorts of discussions in government buildings serve as important steps to removing stigma and societal discomfort associated with periods.\nIn the United States, the road to a similar piece of legislation will likely be long and arduous. At least 30 states still maintain period products as taxable items. However, organizations such as Tax Free Period are demanding the removal of such “tampon taxes.” And we should look to Scotland’s bill with hope. Its passing is a great stride forward in the fight to end period poverty and proves that providing free, universal access to period products can be a viable piece of legislation. Other countries within the United Kingdom and beyond should look to Scotland as an example of how much progress can be made in a few short years when a government decides to prioritize the health and dignity of its women, girls, and people who menstruate.\nKe'ala Akau is a fellow with Women's Health Research at Yale and a junior in Branford College majoring in the History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. Read more on her blog: "Why Didn't I Know This?"