This term, Waikato schools will be the first to receive free period products. This announcement is a part of the Government’s $2.6 million investment in education.
The rollout will begin with 15 Waikato schools and will expand to all state and state-integrated schools in 2021, but the schools will need to opt-in.
The Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter, met with period health leaders earlier this week to discuss the details of the investment.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says this is another step to support children and young people in poverty. “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.”
The Youth19 survey found that 12 percent of year 9 to 13 students who menstruate reported problems accessing period products. It also found approximately one in 12 students reported having missed school due to a lack of period supplies. While the accessibility of these products is worse in lower decile schools, the issues still exist in schools of all deciles.
Waikato was chosen as the roll-out area by first narrowing all schools down to the top 20 percent with the highest concentration of socio-economic disadvantage. From then schools were grouped by region and the Waikato provided a wide mix of settings within a small geographical area.
The free period products is additional to the 75 other initiatives that were included in the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy launch last year.
The Warehouse has also been making efforts to reduce period poverty in New Zealand by offering a one-dollar range of period products. Wā Collective has also been supporting the cause through subsidising menstrual cups for students.