Scotland is the first country to provide free and universal access to menstruation products such as sanitary napkins, towels and tampons.

The Scottish parliament unanimously approved an act that places a legal duty on the government to make these products available to all women.

Scotland schools, colleges and universities will provide period products for free.

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.

Women are estimated to spend an average of $17 a month on these products and several thousand dollars over a lifetime.

The government estimates the plan will cost taxpayers $31 million (24 million British pounds) annually.

Citing a 2019 report on period poverty, a member of the Scotland parliament said that while many women can afford to buy sanitary products, "those who most need the free products are the ones who are almost guaranteed not to ask for them."

The law caps a four-year campaign spearheaded by Scottish Labor MP Monica Lennon, who said this was "a proud day for Scotland."

"This is an amazing victory for everyone who has campaigned for free universal access to period products and who has convinced the Scottish Government to back this ground-breaking Bill," said Lennon after the vote.

"Scotland has already taken important steps toward improving access to period products and tackling stigma but legislation will guarantee rights, ensure that current initiatives continue in future on a universal basis, and will help us achieve period dignity for all."

Lennon said the bill will make a difference in the lives of women and girls. She said there's already been great progress at a community level in giving everyone the chance of "period dignity."

"A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream. MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability."