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22 March 2018

Cabinet Secretary Calls for Rethink on Period Poverty Approach in 'Shire

Aberdeenshire Council has been called on to rethink its current policy on how period products are accessed by students in North-East schools.

The Tory-led local authority had been considering making sanitary products free for all girls in both primary and secondary schools.

But despite calls they decided against installing dispensing machines which would allow school pupils to access provisions by themselves.

Instead, students have to ask for sanitary products from school nurses themselves.

But in research carried out by the Scottish Government and Young Scot it was found being forced to ask for period provisions was the least favoured option amongst female pupils.

The call for Aberdeenshire Council to reconsider its decision came after Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson asked the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Equalities and Social Security Angela Constance, if she was aware of the “stigmatising policy” set out by the local authority.

Ms Constance said:

“Recent research we carried out in partnership with Young Scot found that having to ask a member of staff for sanitary products was the least popular option amongst those in education and officials have worked closely with stakeholders, informed by this very important research, to develop a set of guiding principles for provision and those principles include ensuring dignity is front and centre and student’s views are taken into account in developing the delivery approach.

“It appears the delivery approach of Aberdeenshire Council is not consistent with student views or our guiding principles and we would encourage them to again look at their delivery approach in consultation with students and I stand ready and my officials stand ready to assist either the MSP for the area or indeed officials.”

In July last year Aberdeen became the first place to host a pilot project looking at free sanitary product provision.

And in the Programme for Government a couple of months First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced sanitary products would be made available in schools, colleges and universities from Autumn 2018.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Aberdeenshire Council have a duty of care to the pupils who are educated in schools across the local authority.

“The one clear factor for females was that they did not want to have to go and ask for sanitary products for fear of being stigmatised.

“Those who live in a challenging financial situation and cannot afford to purchase sanitary provisions may feel a stigma attached to that.

“The last thing they will want to do is ask for help and It may leave them feeling more isolated.

“The evidence is clear and as Ms Constance says, Aberdeenshire Council should rethink their current decision which is very unhelpful.”
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