Paid period leaves, lower tampon taxes and free sanitary products: progress on women’s needs around the world | Greta Maggi


Moreover, it is important to mention that many governments, under the impetus of feminist movements and associations, are moving towards the reduction or abolition of tampon tax with the aim of eliminating what has been labeled as “gender tax discrimination”.




Glimpses of hope: free period products are gaining traction 

Twenty is the number of places worldwide that provide free menstrual products. Of course, free period products alone won’t end period poverty. It is also essential for a functioning society to be able to provide education to its citizens, adequate water, sanitation facilities, and address harmful gender norms. Having said that, let’s now embrace the developments some places have experienced in the past couple of years. 




  1. Scotland 

Scotland became the first country to give free tampons and sanitary products to anyone. The effort was reached through the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) BillThis measure came into effect after the country was also the first to provide period products in school in 2017.




2. New Zealand


In February 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that all schools in New Zealand would provide free tampons and pads in June. The measure came into effect as declared. 




3. New South Wales and 4. Victoria (Australia)


In 2018, the Australian government announced a plan to provide free pads and tampons in all public schools. Victoria was the first state in Australia state to implement that and help dissipate period stigma, and late on New South Wales followed suit.




5. Illinois; 6. Washington; 7. New York; 8. New Hampshire; 9. Virginia (United States)


New York City first the bill to provide public schools with free tampons and pads went into law in 2019.  Several other states did the same in 2021. Virginia passed Bill 232 in January 2020, and Washington another Bill in May 2021. In August 2021 Illinois Governor signed a Bill to ensure free period products be provided in college bathrooms and at shelters.




10. Île-de-France, France 


In France’s Île-de-France region the distribution of free organic period products in high schools started in September 2020. Here the government policy was championed by organizations.




Other places on the list: 


11. Kenya

12. South Africa 

13. Botswana 

14. Seoul, South Korea

15. Uganda

16. Zambia

17. British Columbia

18. Ontario

19. Nova Scotia

20. Prince Edward Island (Canada)




All in all, it can be said that even if menstruation and what turns the topic is still taboo in some contexts, huge developments have been made in the past few years. We now need to ask where progress can be made and why it has not happened yet. How great is the difference between developed and developing nations? How far can we go from here? 



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