New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement a few days ago that nearly 95,000 girls in the country aged 9 to 18 are thought to stay home during their periods because they’re unable to afford sanitary products like pads and tampons. In order to tackle period poverty, the country announced that it will provide free sanitary products in schools across the country.
Ardern said that the government supports young girls and women to continue learning at school by making sanitary products freely available.
As announced by the government, the country will invest $1.7 million in the initiative, and the first free sanitary products will be rolled out in 15 schools in the Waikato region of the country. The program is planned to expand across all schools in the country by 2021.
Although period poverty is often seen as a problem for developing countries, numerous studies have reported that period poverty is present even in the world’s richest nations, including the U.S., the U.K, and even New Zealand.
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The New Zealand-based Youth19 organization conducted a survey in which it found that 12 percent of all students who menstruate aged from 12 to 18 reported difficulty accessing sanitary products due to affordability. Additionally, 1 in 12 students has reported missing school due to a lack of access to sanitary products.
New Zealand’s Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter, expressed her gratitude to the campaigners and the researchers that conducted the survey, and she said that menstruation is a fact of life for half the population, and access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury!
“We want an Aotearoa New Zealand where all people have access to education and the things they need to live a good life – I am so pleased this Government is finding ways of helping children and young people, at a time when every extra bit of assistance is important.” – she added.