TO the long list of Scottish inventions and innovations that have made this small nation famous the world over, we can now add the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, the first national law anywhere that makes female sanitary items free.

The campaign and the bill passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament following the initiative of Monica Lennon MSP has caught the imagination of many people across the world, and there has been almost universal praise for the new law.

Prestigious American publication Newsweek reported on its website that Scotland’s law could energise the campaign against the so-called tampon tax that still exists in 35 of the states.

In the USA, groceries and medication are considered non-luxury items and are therefore tax-exempt in most states, and campaigners argue period products should be too.

Newsweek stated: “Responding to the Scottish measure, Sophia Yen, founder of Pandia Health, an online service that prescribes birth control to women without insurance, said: ‘Wherever there is free toilet paper, there should be free menstrual hygiene products too.

“The news was widely celebrated, with one person tweeting: ‘Period products aren't optional, we can't just bleed everywhere. So instead, women spend on average, $10-25 per month on period products, $120-300 a year, or nearly $10,000 over the course of their life. I'm seriously envying Scottish women.’"

The Business Times of China explained the situation: “The decision is aimed at alleviating ‘period poverty’ in which girls and women have difficulty accessing or affording menstrual products.

It has been described as the struggle to pay for basic sanitary products – the cost of which has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows nearly one in five women in Scotland have experienced period poverty.”

READ MORE: Scotland becomes first country in the world to make period products free for all

Broadcaster Al Jazeera reported: “Scotland on Tuesday made sanitary products free to all women, becoming the first nation in the world to take such a step against ‘period poverty’.

“The measure makes tampons and sanitary pads available at designated public places such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies, at an estimated annual cost to taxpayers of 24 million pounds ($32m).”

Pakistan-based news group stated: “It is especially important to break the silence on this topic so that millions of young girls every years don’t see their period as a disability but a natural, normal part of their lives.

“Women are the bringers of new life into the world, and periods are part of that process. We applaud the move and home more countries will follow suit.”

The new law has certainly been noticed in London. Ayesha Hazarika in the Evening Standard wrote: “The campaign to end period poverty in Scotland is a fine example what can be achieved when women from all backgrounds and causes come together. I hope the UK Parliament follows their lead – in so many ways.”

The new law could even change the legal situation across the European Union. The influential website reported: “Though Scotland is the first nation to make feminine hygiene freely available to all, a handful of countries have banned the ‘tampon tax’ – the levying of VAT on sanitary products.

“In Europe, Ireland is the only country with no tampon tax. The EU only allows zero-rate VAT derogations on products which were zero-rated before EU legislation.”

Though Ireland has banned the tampon tax, it hopes to fully catch up on Scotland. The Irish Times reported that Monica Lennon said that campaigners across the world had been watching progress in Scotland very closely. “It’s an important message in the middle of a global pandemic that we can still put the rights of women and girls high up the political agenda.”

The paper reported that in the Republic, Homeless Period Ireland provide to those in need: “Its team of 30 drivers pick up tampons and sanitary towels left by the public at locations such as chemists, beauty salons and shops and distributes them to groups helping the homeless, as well as women in direct provision, women’s shelters and third-level institutions such as UCD and the University of Limerick.”

Now imagine if Scotland was independent – what other innovations could the Scottish Parliament pass to lead the world?