Periods are a biological predisposition of being born a female, and the average female will spend more than 2,500 days, or roughly 7 years, of her life menstruating, but many women and girls around the world cannot afford period products. On Tuesday, Scotland became the first country to legislatively combat this issue by making menstrual products free in public facilities nationwide.
The Scottish Parliament confirmed in a tweet on Tuesday that the bill had passed unanimously. According to the parliament's website, the law requires the Scottish Government to set up a universal system so that anyone in need of period products can get them for free. Schools, colleges and universities will also be required to make free menstrual products available in restrooms. Local authorities and education providers will be responsible for ensuring free products are made available under the law.
There are roughly 1.57 million menstruating individuals in Scotland, according to the bill's associated financial memorandum. Based on that figure, it's estimated the new law will cost the Scottish government roughly £8.7 million in 2022/23, although the real cost will depend on how many individuals use the products made available.
The bill was introduced by Member of the Scottish Parliament Monica Lennon in April 2019. After the bill passed on Tuesday, she tweeted that it was "about bloody time."
In a document pushing for free period products that was published in 2017, Lennon explained the harsh realities of period poverty in Scotland and the rest of the U.K. She said rising levels of poverty in general in Scotland were forcing women to choose between buying food or menstrual products.
"Despite the fact that a pack of sanitary pads can be found in most supermarkets for a couple of pounds and might not seem like a huge expense — when you have no or very little income, it can be insurmountable," she wrote.
According to the Scottish government's website, there were roughly 220,000 girls and women between the ages of 12 and 54 living in relative poverty after housing costs as of 2018.
A lack of proper menstrual products can have a negative impact on personal health. Prolonged tampon usage can result in Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which can be fatal. Those who have additional health issues may need more period products than the average every month, creating a higher cost burden. It can also lead to anxiety, as many women and girls experience feelings of shame or embarrassment about their periods and are uncomfortable asking for products, even if they can't afford them.
Global children's charity Plan International released statistics in 2017 showing that a lack of menstrual products was a pervasive problem among women and girls in the United Kingdom, largely due to cost.
According to the organization, 10% of girls across the U.K. cannot afford sanitary products such as pads and tampons, and 15% of girls in the U.K. struggle to afford them. Another 19% of girls in the four nations — Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland — had to use less suitable products because of cost. Just under 50% of girls in the U.K. reported having missed school because of their periods.
Britain's central government has also taken steps this year to combat period poverty. In March it was announced that from January 2021 the current 5% sales tax on sanitary products, long known as the "tampon tax," will no longer apply, according to the BBC.
Source: CBS News
The UN is to spend $25m (£19m) from its emergency fund to address what has been called the “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence against women displaced by wars and disasters.
The money will be divided between the UN population fund (UNFPA) and UN Women, and at least 30% of it must be given to women-led local organisations that prevent violence and help survivors access medical and legal help, family planning, mental health services and counselling.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock announced the funding on Wednesday, calling on other funders to “put their money where their mouth is” to support gender equality and women’s rights.
“The needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings continue to be overlooked and underfunded,” he said. “The Covid-19 pandemic helped reveal the full extent of gender inequality while creating a set of circumstances that threaten to reverse the limited progress that has been made.”
Hayat Mirshad, co-director of feminist collective Fe-Male in Lebanon, said the extra money was a positive step, but local groups “need for this money to be directly delivered”. She called for it to be spent based on the needs of communities not priorities prescribed by UN agencies, international organisations or donors.
Mirshad said Covid-19 and the Beirut port explosion in August had compounded an already precarious economic situation. Grassroots organisations, the first on the scene in any crisis, had been forced to adapt. In recent months, Fe-Male has had to tailor its work to address rising cases in online violence and to support women and girls who are unable to afford sanitary pads.
Funding with fixed priorities was therefore not helpful, she said. “Covid has affected our situation and imposed on us urgent needs and priorities and that’s why it’s important we have urgent funds and for these to be flexible.”
UN Women estimate that in the 12 months before the pandemic, 243 million women and girls aged between 15 and 49 had been sexually or physically abused by a partner.
But in 2018, less than 0.3% of total bilateral aid – $408m – from the world’s 14 biggest donors went to addressing such violence.
The pandemic triggered a rise in cases of domestic violence, prompting warnings of at least 15m more cases for every three months lockdowns were imposed.
A report published last month by the International Rescue Committee called gender-based violence the “shadow pandemic” and said the global response to Covid-19 had largely failed women and girls.
It added that local women’s groups and female leaders had been critical to maintaining protection and support services.
The UN announcement came at the start of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, an annual global campaign , running from 25 November until 10 December.
Source: The Guardian
Football legend Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players of all time, has died at the age of 60.
The former Argentina attacking midfielder and manager suffered a heart attack at his Buenos Aires home.
He had successful surgery on a brain blood clot earlier in November and was to be treated for alcohol dependency.
Maradona was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous 'Hand of God' goal against England in the quarter-finals.
In a statement on social media, the Argentine Football Association expressed "its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend", adding: "You will always be in our hearts."
Declaring three days of national mourning, Alberto Fernandez, the president of Argentina, said: "You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all.
"Thank you for having existed, Diego. We're going to miss you all our lives."
Maradona played for Barcelona and Napoli during his club career, winning two Serie A titles with the Italian side.
He scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina, representing them in four World Cups.
Maradona led his country to the 1990 final in Italy, where they were beaten by West Germany, before captaining them again in the United States in 1994, but was sent home after failing a drugs test for ephedrine.
During the second half of his career, Maradona struggled with cocaine addiction and was banned for 15 months after testing positive for the drug in 1991.
He retired from professional football in 1997, on his 37th birthday, during his second stint at Argentine giants Boca Juniors.
Having briefly managed two sides in Argentina during his playing career, Maradona was appointed head coach of the national team in 2008 and left after the 2010 World Cup, where his side were beaten by Germany in the quarter-finals.
He subsequently managed teams in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico and was in charge of Gimnasia y Esgrima in Argentina's top flight at the time of his death.
Football world pays tributeBrazil legend Pele led tributes to Maradona, writing on Twitter: "What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky."
Former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, who was part of the England team beaten by Argentina at the 1986 World Cup, said Maradona was "by some distance, the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time".
Ex-Tottenham and Argentina midfielder Ossie Ardiles said: "Thank dear Dieguito for your friendship, for your football, sublime, without comparison. Simply, the best football player in the history of football. So many enjoyable moments together. Impossible to say which one was the best. RIP my dear friend."
Boca Juniors, where Maradona enjoyed two spells and finished his career, gave "eternal thanks" to their former player.
Paris St-Germain and Brazil forward Neymar posted a photo of him as a youngster with Maradona, calling the Argentine a "legend of football".
England captain Harry Kane and forward Marcus Rashford also paid tribute.
Barcelona was the first club outside of Argentina that Maradona played for. He scored 22 goals in 36 appearances between 1982 and 1984.
Another of Maradona's former clubs, Napoli, paid tribute. He played for the club between 1984 and 1991, making 188 appearances.