Girls at New Zealand’s high schools will no longer have to incur the cost of purchasing sanitary products as the government has ensured its provision in a new bill.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said sanitary supplies for a monthly period were not a luxury, but a necessity and too many girls were skipping school because they weren’t able to afford pads or tampons.
“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.”
In the deprived areas of the country, it is reported that girls are being forced to use toilet paper, newspaper and rags to manage their period.
According to The Guardian, 15 Waikato schools – identified as those most in need – will have access to free products from term three of this year. The programme will go nationwide on an opt-in basis by 2021.
Ardern pointed that this was an attempt to reduce overall child and period poverty in the country.
“Our plan to halve child poverty in 10 years is making a difference but there is more to do and with families hit hard by the COVID-19 global pandemic, it’s important to increase that support in the areas it can make an immediate difference,” she said.
Previously, similar decisions have been taken by England and Scotland as well.