Thought For The Day – Periods – 18th Aug 2022

Surfing the crimson wave? A visit from Aunt Flo? Got the painters in? This week Scotland led the world in tackling period poverty with the coming into force of the Scottish Government’s Period Products Act. This requires councils and places of education to offer sanitary products free to those who need them.

But the headlines that followed weren’t about access for all, they were about the fact that Scotland’s first Period Dignity Regional Lead Officer…is a man.

In what must be the marketing coup of the century, this red-clad period ambassador is now at large in the Tay region, promoting access to free sanitary products in schools and colleges. The only way this could have been bettered is by giving the guy a mitre, and creating a new Bishop for Periods, because it was religious men who stopped us talking about them in the first place. Most religions – with the exception of Sikhism – traditionally excluded women who were ‘temporarily unclean.’ It wasn’t just a taboo subject in conversation, women were physically disappeared from their worshipping community for the duration, as if to airbrush the whole thing out of the public square. We know that even today, in many communities around the world women are shunned every month, and made to feel ashamed of what’s happening to them.

Most of us are only here because our mums had periods. Half the population menstruates at some time in their life, and according to Unicef, on any given day 800 million women in the world are having a period. In today’s Scotland, it seems odd that such a commonplace and frankly tedious reminder of female fertility should ever inspire such paroxysms of horror and exclusion. But we all know that the one thing that does heap unnecessary shame on women and girls is not being able to afford sanitary products. So this act of global leadership by Scotland is brilliant. Whether or not it’s a man starting the conversations about it, it’s a good thing, period.

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I have been delivering “Thought For The Day” pieces on BBC Radio Scotland since November 2016. By kind permission these pieces are reproduced in blog posts here on my website. To find my other pieces click here go to my Thought For The Day index page.

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