New Zealand’s initiative to end Period Poverty- free sanitary products in schools

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Period Poverty is one of the biggest issues in the world. Women all over the globe are suffering due to the impacts of period poverty. Scotland became the first nation in the world to make sanitary products free for the people who need them, in the quest to end period poverty. Now New Zealand has also taken a similar initiative by making period products free in schools, all over the nation, starting from June 2021.

New Zealand’s initiative of ending period poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has proved to be a great political leader time and again. She handled the Covid-19 pandemic so well that people are able to move around freely without any restrictions in New Zealand. While other nations around the world are still struggling. Now, she, along with Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti have announced a new initiative of providing free period products to children and young people in all schools across New Zealand.

The following statement by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden was published on the official website of the New Zealand Government– “We know that nearly 95,000 9-to-18-year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products. By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school.”

New Zealand has taken this initiative for the overall well-being of women. Another major reason is to increase the school attendance of girls during periods. Education opens up door of opportunities, and no one should be deprived of education due to the lack of access to sanitary products. Once the attendance increases, there will be more female involvement in school activities like sports, extracurricular activities, etc. This will also lessen the burden of families who are struggling financially. And, also help in gender equality and reducing stigma around menstruation.

New Zealand’s approach and planning

This initiative was well planned by the government of New Zealand. It was not a decision that was taken overnight. It started with a trial phase in 2020, in which 15 schools had participated. The response from this trial phase was overwhelmingly positive, which helped in moving forward with this initiative.

According to New Zealand’s Ministry of Education, “In February 2021, the Government announced the national roll-out of the initiative to all schools and kura across New Zealand on an opt-in basis, starting in June 2021 with funding secured until June 2024. Those that opt-in by 31 March 2021 will be included in the first phase with products arriving in schools from the end of Term 2. Schools can continue to opt-in but will be included in later phases of the roll-out.”

So, schools have to opt-in for this service. There is no deadline for this, the only thing is some schools may be behind others to start this program offering free sanitary products. This is a good opportunity for schools to support their female students. Besides this, it can also provide a valuable life lesson to all the students in school regarding the stigmas surrounding menstruation and importance of education.

Ending Period Poverty means more opportunities for Women

Ending period poverty is extremely important. It will help women live a better life and give them many opportunities, which they were deprived of due to lack of education or availability of sanitary products. Women’s health will improve when they get educated about basic periods related issues. When women are given free access to menstrual hygiene tools, sanitary products, etc., they will be able to lead a normal life without any barriers. They can focus on greater things than worrying about skipping school or work due to a lack of sanitary products.

Period Poverty- A worldwide issue

Period poverty is indeed a worldwide issue that should be resolved. Women around the world don’t deserve to suffer mentally and physically due to stigma around periods and lack of available products. All other nations should be inspired by Scotland and New Zealand in their attempt to end period poverty. And, work on improving women’s health by making basic sanitary products easily available. If we think about it- Scotland and New Zealand are among developed nations. Yet, they had a major issue of period poverty, which led them to take these initiatives. The situation is certainly even worse in developing and underdeveloped nations, where poverty is a major issue.

So, this is the time for us to come together and spread the word and end period poverty.

Support ending Period Poverty

If you are in support of ending Period Poverty or want to get more information on Period Poverty, go over the Pamphlet provided by AMWA. You can also write a letter to Congress and sign a petition to end Period Poverty by scanning the QR Code provided.

Sources:

https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/free-period-products-schools-combat-poverty

https://www.education.govt.nz/our-work/overall-strategies-and-policies/wellbeing-in-education/access-to-free-period-products/

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