SITTING in Milk cafe in the South Side my four-year-old daughter loudly brags to her brother that one day her vagina will bleed and that means she might be able to have a baby!

She continues, now with the attention of everyone in the small cafe, to inform him that his penis cannot do that. “Ha!” I don’t have the heart to tell her that when her period actually happens she is unlikely to feel as happy about it as she does right now.

But I live in hope that by that time we will all be talking about periods more openly; that the schoolyard sniggering will have been reduced by the open discussions taking place about women’s bodies and their natural functions; and that period products will be available to everyone who needs them and not just those who can afford them.

This week, a Holyrood committee rejected a bid to make Scotland the first country to provide free period products for all.

There clearly wasn’t anyone on the committee who had resorted to using socks instead of pads or who had been forced to choose between nappies for their child or period pads for themselves.

As someone who works in a grassroots community organisation, there is not a day goes by without a request for period products.

When we set up our open-to-all, free events that distribute clothing, footwear and various other items to those who need it, we never return with period products. The need is clear and the evidence is available yet the Scottish Government has chosen to ignore both this week.

The evidence is also not simply about showing need – it has a duality to it, in that donations of this type are vastly greater than any other toiletry product on the market. When we ask for donations of period products, people deliver.

There is an understanding, very often unspoken, that no one should be without the product that they need to continue to go about their normal day. There is no option to opt out of having your period and there is certainly no societal expectation that when you have your period you be allowed to opt out of daily activities, be they work, study, parenting or any other.

But that is what the inability to access products pushes many women and girls into – missing school, stealing products, avoiding leaving their homes because products are unaffordable and inaccessible.

Whilst it is excellent that some supermarkets and schools, cafes and pubs are engaged in providing free products for the people using their spaces, it isn’t enough.

Once again it is down to individual organisations or establishments engaging with programmes, rather than government committing to provision that is accessible to all.

By no means do I want to challenge the amazing activity taking place throughout communities and within charities that work tirelessly to ensure that access is given to as many people as possible, however, I do want to see that provision properly supported by the government.

And whilst it may be easier to dismiss the monthly spend made by women, it is far harder to ignore the lifetime spend of £18,000 recently provided by the charity Free Periods. This is not just a basic rights issue, it is a gender issue.

If it were men who were bleeding for a week of every month for more than 30 years of their life, period products would have been free for years, if not from the outset.

The simple fact is that the government had the opportunity to change this for hundreds of thousands of girls and women across the UK and they chose

not to.

So while their discussions continue, we will continue to campaign and to use as many bloody hashtags as we can come up with; we will continue to support those we can and to provide what they still will not; and we will claim this basic right for everyone who needs it. Period.