New Zealand tackles period poverty in the best way - with free sanitary products in schools

The government will roll the scheme out over the next year

Carla Challis

Girls in New Zealand will no longer have to pay for sanitary products after the government announced they are doing their best to stamp out period poverty – by providing all schoolgirls with free pads and tampons. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden said period products were not a luxury, but a necessity, and estimated that period poverty affects more than 90,000 girls in the country. Some schools reported that their students were having to use newspaper, toilet roll or rags to manage their periods, as they couldn't afford pads or tampons.

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New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden met with period poverty campaigners to chat about the new government scheme

"We may not talk about it much, but one of the issues that young people write to me about is period poverty," PM Jacinda wrote on Instagram. "Poverty amongst children and young people doesn’t stop at things like food and housing, and we know that nearly 95,000 young people miss out on school and other activities during their periods because they can't afford products. That's not right. And that's why as part of this year’s budget we’re funding a new programme that will provide free products to schools." 15 Waikato schools, identified as those most in need, will have access to free period products from later this year with the scheme being rolled out nationwide by 2021.

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New Zealand's commitment to tackling period poverty follows the UK’s own initiative, which saw the UK government launch a free period product scheme across schools and colleges in England earlier this year; period poverty is estimated to affect one in 10 women in the UK, who are unable to afford to buy pads, tampons or menstrual cups.

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