THE idea that many girls and women across Scotland have limited or no access to sanitary products will seem, to many, unimaginable.

But it is a reality that faces so many females who, for a number of reasons, simply are unable to access period products when they need them.

It is a health inequality that I have been passionate about bringing to the public’s attention for a number of years and increasingly after my election last year.

A year ago, the SNP’s Political Education Officer Julie Hepburn and I put forward a joint resolution to the National Council calling for the introduction of an “S-card”.

Alongside Julie and the members of Women for Independence, I have long advocated for steps to be taken to end period poverty including ways for women to access sanitary products.

So I was delighted when the North East became the first location for the pilot scheme announced in July and now, the Scottish Government has revealed a step which will take this initial programme even further.

Six regeneration areas in Aberdeen have already benefited from the scheme which will enable up to 1000 women to access sanitary products in a six-month timeframe.

The decision by the Scottish Government to further investigate how sanitary products can be provided for free to students in schools, colleges and universities to fight period poverty will be life-changing for many.

And since the issue of period poverty came more into the public domain, reports have emerged of cases where teenagers have been forced to use toilet roll as an alternative or simply go without completely.

It doesn’t make nice reading to know that a very basic hygiene requirement simply cannot be met. For some, it is a case of the financial struggle they face day-to-day.

The choice can be between putting food on the table and providing basic necessities such as sanitary products – which may have to fall by the wayside.

For others it may be that they have found themselves in a relationship where they have been suffering from domestic abuse and without their partner they have no access to finances. To this end, I called for further provision to help women who are restricted by coercion through financial means.

In the Programme for Government, the First Minister’s announcement was met with rapturous support from across the political spectrum.

Women in schools, colleges and universities will benefit and further investigations will be undertaken in how to help those not in education who come from low income families.

We will also be investigating how the scheme can benefit low income families to safeguard their dignity and support equal rights.

Being able to access sanitary products is fundamental to securing equality, dignity and rights across the whole of public policy.

I am proud to be a part of the Scottish Government’s goal to deliver this basic right.