Scottish group appoints man as first ever period dignity regional lead

·3 min read

The appointment of a man to a new regional role promoting period dignity has provoked criticism and consternation.

Jason Grant, who has previously worked in tobacco sales and as a personal trainer, was announced as the period dignity regional lead officer for the Tay region earlier this week, in what is believed to be the first role of its kind in the country and prompted by groundbreaking women’s health legislation.

But his appointment has received an incredulous response. Former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova posted on Twitter: “This is just f****** ridiculous,” adding: “Have we ever tried to explain to men how to shave or how to take care of their prostate or whatever?!? This is absurd.”

Other commentators immediately linked Grant’s appointment – which is funded by the Scottish government but chosen by a local team of councils and colleges – to recent Holyrood rows over sex and gender.

But the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, told Sky News that it was “far better that women are in these posts than anyone else”.

“It’s a policy that we should all be proud of. At the end of the day, I think there should be a priority of having women in place in these posts.”

Scotland was the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to period products when it passed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021, which became law this week.

Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour MSP who spearheaded a four-year campaign that has shifted the public discourse around menstruation, said it was important that women’s voices were not crowded out.

“Inclusive period dignity is at the heart of the Period Products Act. Actively promoting universal free access to period products and investing in menstrual health and wellbeing will help eradicate stigma, misogyny and inequality.”

“There’s a role for men taking on leadership roles and contributing to positive and respectful conversations whilst ensuring that the voices of women, girls and people who menstruate are never crowded out.”

A spokesperson for the Period Dignity Working Group, which comprises Dundee and Angus College, Angus council, Dundee city council and Perth College UHI underlined that the role was largely focused on project management.

“By changing the culture, encouraging debate and removing the stigma around periods, we look forward to supporting the delivery of this important work across the region.”

In a press release announcing his appointment, Grant said: “I think being a man will help me to break down barriers, reduce stigma and encourage more open discussions. Although affecting women directly, periods are an issue for everyone. We’ll also raise awareness of the menopause, which, although a natural process for women, has wider repercussions in the world of work and family.

“It’s time to normalise these topics and get real around the subject. I believe I can make progress by proving this isn’t just a female topic, encouraging conversations across all genders and educating and engaging new audiences.”