AN increase in funding has been announced to continue the provision of free sanitary products to pupils and students in Scotland.

Last year, Scotland become the first country in the world to provide access to free sanitary products for school pupils, as well as college and university students.

Increased investment of up to £5.5m will now be made by the Scottish Government to ensure that provision continues.

Local authorities will receive £2m for the next financial year, while universities and colleges will receive up to £3.5m.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced funding to increase the number of places where free sanitary products are available.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell and Cosla president Alison Evison visited Stirling High School on Friday to meet pupils benefiting from free products and campaigning to reduce period stigma.

The National: Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell (Scottish Parliament/PA)

Campbell said: "After a successful launch last year, we have delivered world-leading action by providing free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.

"Being able to access free sanitary products is fundamental to equality and human dignity.

"I've heard first-hand from pupils about the positive impact of having products easily available at school.

"It takes away the worry of being caught short or missing a day of school if they don't have products available at home.

"I commend the work of the students who have been working hard to reduce the stigma of periods as it's really important that no one gets embarrassed about periods and parents and children, boys and girls can all openly talk about them."

Evison said: "Cosla and our member councils have led the way in providing access to free sanitary products in schools, ensuring fairness for learners and enabling them to fully participate in education.

"This visit has allowed me to see the provision and the facilities first hand and to congratulate staff and pupils for making this initiative a reality for local young people."

Amy McDiarmid, a fourth-year pupil at Stirling High School, said: "The initiative has worked really well at our school because of pupil involvement and this has helped reduce the stigma around periods.

"I got involved with the issue because I thought it was important."

Scottish LabourMSP Monica Lennon welcomed the increase in funding.

The National: Scottish Labour's Monica LennonScottish Labour's Monica Lennon

She said: "This is a welcome move which will increase investment to ensure equal access in the provision of period products for Scotland's students.

"My Member's Bill will make access to period products a legal right and establish universal access for anyone who needs them.

"I hope the Scottish Government will commit to backing this world-leading legislation."

Nicola Fisher, of the EIS, said the provision of free sanitary products is a necessity.

"The EIS welcomes the increased investment to continue the provision of free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities," she said.

"In a climate of austerity, with one in five children in Scotland living in poverty, the cost of essential sanitary products is yet another expense that low-income families struggle to meet.

"The EIS has been a strong voice in the campaign to address period poverty, joining with others in Scotland to ensure that women and girls in our educational establishments have free access to sanitary products as necessary."