Girls to Be Given Free Sanitary Products in New Zealand Schools to Help End Period Poverty

Young girls always need good care and good guidance from their mothers or other older female when their bodies are concerned. The New Zealand government is also contributing to this care by introducing a program that is aimed to help young women. This new program should be introduced by 2021 including every school in the country to offer free access to sanitary pads and tampons.

A disturbing reason why 10% of young girls can’t properly attend school

According to a conducted 2019 survey, by Adolescent Health Research Group of New Zealand 12% of the students that have a period have problems in getting the supplies they need for their cycle. Some of the students even missed classes, more than 8% of them, because of shortage in the supply of tampons or sanitary napkins.

In this modern era of living, these results are very distressing. In the study were involved 7894 young people, out of which 7721 were students in Year 9-Year 13 (a New Zealand equivalent of high school–ages 13-17).  The students who were menstruating and could not afford the regular sanitary napkins had to find some other means in this period of the month.

Most of the low-income students reported that they used fabric scraps, newspapers, and toilet paper as makeshift sanitary napkins. The schools that were mostly affected by this situation are the schools from the Waikato region. Therefore, 15 schools from this region will be the “test run” for this program considering the fact that they need it the most. These schools will receive free sanitary supplies at the start on July 20th, 2020, when the third term starts.

Where is the female dignity?

Miranda Hitchings, the co-founder of Dignity, a New Zealand nonprofit, has been offering menstrual supplies to schools for years. She states that “gendered financial burden” causes low-income students to face “an increase of absenteeism.”

She praises the government’s latest decision regarding this matter: “It’s a fantastic investment from our government.”

But, she adds:

However, this is just the beginning. Period poverty doesn’t just affect students. It’s a subset of poverty, and many other groups, like those experiencing homelessness and income loss, deeply feel the implications from a lack of access to products.”

Government officials greatly support this program

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, states:

 “We know that nearly 95,000 nine-to-18-year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products.”

The Prime Minister sincerely hopes that this program offering sanitary products will bring young girls to school, by “making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school.”

The New Zealand’s Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter is a great supporter of this program, and she states:

“Menstruation is a fact of life for half the population. And access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury.”

How is the situation in the states?

Thinx Inc, a company known for its period-proof underwear, and non-profit PERIOD has also conducted a survey on this issue in the states. The results were also terrible, namely 25% of students who menstruate, in the age between 13 to 19 miss classes due to shortage of sanitary supplies.

Note:

These supplies are needed for all “people who menstruate”, including trans women, and gender-fluid and gender non-binary individuals. In the text the terms “women” or “girls” are being used, referring to people with a menstrual cycle as some of the trans women and cis women may not have a functioning reproductive system.

Sources:

unilad.co.uk

newschain.uk

stuff.co.nz