New Zealand announce sanitary products will now be free in schools

5 June 2020, 12:21

This is a great move
This is a great move. Picture: Getty

The move is a step in the right direction towards ending period poverty.

Earlier this week the New Zealand government announced that they will now be providing free sanitary products for women in schools across the entire country.

The move is one in an effort to tackle period poverty, which is when females are unable to access or afford sufficient menstrual hygiene products such as tampons and panty liners.

Period poverty is a huge problem
Period poverty is a huge problem. Picture: Getty

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern revealed in a statement that a whopping 95,000 girls aged nine to 19 across NZ are thought to be staying at home from school during their period as a result of not being able to afford sanitary products.

She said: "By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school".

The New Zealand government is investing NZ$2.6 million ($1.7 million) in the initiative, which will be first rolled out at 15 schools in the Waikato region of the country's North Island during term three of this year. The program will then expand nationwide to all state schools by 2021.

A health and well-being survey from New Zealand-based Youth19 found 12% of students in Year 9 to 13 (ages 12 to 18) who menstruate reported difficulty accessing sanitary products due to affordability.

And around one in 12 students reported having missed school due to lack of access to sanitary products.

"Menstruation is a fact of life for half the population and access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury," said New Zealand's Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter.

Unable to afford or access sanitary products or manage basic menstrual hygiene, girls across the world instead resort to using rags, old clothes, newspapers, hay, sand, or even ash, according to Unicef and other aid organizations.