The New Zealand government provides free period products in all schools
Starting in June, all New Zealand schools will provide menstrual products free of charge. In poorer parts of the country, schoolgirls had to turn to newspapers and toilet paper because they could not afford to buy tampons and pads.
All schools in New Zealand will provide free menstrual products to menstruating students starting in June. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this Thursday in a presentation of the initiative. Schools and organizations have been asking for an interview initiative for years: More and more girls will turn away from the classroom during menstruation because they cannot buy necessary hygiene products.
“Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of the life of half the population,” Ardern said when her plan was formally presented. Before that, there was already a pilot project in 15 schools with increased needs.
School principals have reported serious problems with students during the bleeding, especially in poor areas of the country. For example, young people are said to have turned to newspapers, toilet paper and even phone books as an alternative to time period products due to financial need.
Poverty period: many of those affected regularly drop out of school
According to Jacinda Ardern, one in twelve young men in New Zealand regularly missed school because there was no money to buy menstrual products. An NGO estimates the total number of children between the ages of nine and 18 who are staying in their homes due to so-called “period poverty” at around 95,000.
Prime Minister Ardern said Thursday that schoolchildren from all over the country have asked her to always have menstrual products available to everyone. She described the government’s decision as an effective boost in the nation’s public struggle against poverty: free period products in schools are a direct way to address the problem and improve the well-being of children and youth. According to the head of government, those affected by poverty can go to school regularly.
The project aims to initiate menstrual bleeding
However, the initiative also aims to dispel the general stigma surrounding menstrual bleeding. Jean Tenetti, the women’s minister and deputy education minister in the Ardern government, said the pilot program had highlighted a myriad of problems in the school’s handling of the issue. In addition to feeling shy and dread not having period products, this also included high costs to acquire them and a lack of information about how to use them.
“The students told us they want more information about menstrual bleeding and its products,” Tenetti said. Young people also wanted to know how to monitor the cycle and when and where to get help and advice.
Prime Minister Ardern: Effective action against child poverty
The Ardern government aims to halve child poverty in New Zealand over the next decade. Ardern said that the Corona pandemic made the path towards the goal difficult. However, it is important to have a direct impact on the lives of underprivileged children and youth through practical measures such as free menstrual products in schools.
In Germany, the “Social Period” association launched a petition in November demanding the signatories for free period products in all public institutions. More than 35,000 people have already signed it.