New Zealand will offer free access to sanitary products in all schools across the country starting in June to fight against period poverty, government officials announced on Feb. 18.
According to Ardern, research showed that one in 12 young people in New Zealand missed school due to inadequate access to sanitary products.
“Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.
“Providing free period products at school is one way the government can directly address poverty, help increase school attendance, and make a positive impact on children’s well-being,” Ardern also said.
The government initiative will cost NZ$25 million (US$ 18 million) through 2024, according to Ardern.
Officials also said that the Ministry of Education will work with suppliers to manage a phased rollout of the program.
The initiative expands a successful pilot program last year that provided free sanitary products to around 3,200 students in 15 schools in the Waikato region.
According to officials, the pilot program received positive feedback, which prompted them to expand it.
Minister of Women and Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said that aside from the cost and missing classes as issues with periods at school, other issues included lack of knowledge, stigma, and discomfort.
“Students wanted information about periods, period products, and other practical elements of managing their period such as tracking and knowing when and who to reach out to for assistance,” Tinetti said, speaking about the results of the pilot program.
“We want to see improved engagement, learning and behavior, fewer young people missing school because of their period, and reduced financial hardship amongst families of participating students,” Ardern said.
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