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Young girls to be given free sanitary products to end period poverty in New Zealand

/ 04:53 PM June 05, 2020
Sanitary napkins and tampons

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Young girls in New Zealand will be given free sanitary products in schools, in an attempt to battle poverty among the youth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The young women in Waikato will be the first to gain access to these products, according to the government’s statement on Wednesday, June 3.

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The project will begin with 15 schools in the area and expanded to all the state and state-integrated schools in the country until 2021.

“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,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school.”

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“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 added.

The initiative is part of the government’s bigger project to reduce child poverty and hardship in the country, Ardern said. This includes the NZ$5.5 billion worth of family packages, free lunches in schools, cheaper visits to the doctor and more.

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said the government wants everyone to have access to education and the things they need to live a good life.

“Menstruation is a fact of life for half the population and access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury,” Genter declared.

A survey conducted by Youth19 revealed that 12% of 9th- to 13th-grade students who menstruate reported experiencing difficulty in acquiring these products due to their cost.

About one in 12 students also missed school due to lack of access to period products, according to the survey.

Researchers from the University of Otago revealed that 94,788 girls from New Zealand’s poorest households, aged 9 to 18, might be unable to afford sanitary products and could, therefore, be staying home when they have their period.  /ra

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TAGS: Jacinda Ardern, Menstruation, New Zealand, sanitary products, Women’s Health
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