New Zealand Is Giving Free Sanitary Products To All Schoolgirls
New Zealand is giving all schoolgirls access to free sanitary products in a bid to end period poverty throughout the country.
The news comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said free tampons and pads were a necessity due to an increasing number of young girls skipping school because they don't have access to sanitary products.
"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," she said.
"By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school."
The important move comes after a survey of 5,000 women in New Zealand found many were using substitute items such as toilet paper, newspaper or rags of material.
Meanwhile, one in 12 students admitted to missing school due to not having adequate sanitary wear. Added to that, Otago University found period poverty can lead to implications for girls' "health, emotional development, education and career prospects".
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On average, a women's period lasts around five days, which is a huge chunk of time to be out of school each month and across the world, international organisations have been campaigning for access to free sanitary products.
It's believed the new initiative in New Zealand will be rolled out to 15 schools in the Waikato region (identified as the most in need of the products) before being offered to all schools on an opt in basis. This is expected to happen next year.
Organisation Dignity, that provides sanitary supplies to a selection of schools, have welcomed the move.
"For students, a lack of access to period products not only exacerbates feelings of shame and a gendered financial burden but has shown to increase absenteeism," said Miranda Hitchings, co-founder of Dignity.
"It's a fantastic investment from our government. 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."
Such a brilliant move, here's to hoping more countries follow!
Featured Image Credit: PA