New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden Announces Free Menstrual Products In Schools To Fight Period Poverty
Every month, as we all hit our monthly cycles, we stock up not just on pads or tampons, but also treat ourselves to some comfort food, snuggles and a whole lot of rest. Of course that is easy for me to say, considering I have, since my birth, had the privilege of being able to afford the above mentioned without a second thought. But, there is a different world out there for women who can’t afford even the basic amenities when it comes to menstrual hygiene and because of which, miss out on a lot in their lives. A situation that has been recognized by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has announced to offer free menstrual products to all students in schools.
Period poverty is a state where young menstruating women lack the means to access products relating to menstrual hygiene, and end up paying the cost by either missing out on regular school or work. Coming across as a progressive and joyful news for young girls, who will now have an unprecedented access to pads and tampons, the program is set to begin in June following a six-month pilot program that providedto about 3,200 students in 15 schools.
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Prime Minister Ardern, who says she was encouraged by the “positive response” she received from the trial, is now looking to expand this initiative across all of New Zealand and break the stereotypes that otherwise surround menstrual hygiene.
She said, “Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population. Removing barriers to healthy, active, educational outcomes for children and young people is an important part of the Government’s Youth and Wellbeing Strategy.”
Not only will this initiative help in maintaining young girls’ attendance in schools but also look after their well-being, all the while normalising menstruation and smashing the stigmas built around it. PM Jacinda Ardern further went on to say, “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.”
The cost of this government-led initiative is said to be $17.96 million through 2024, and hopes to address issues like embarrassment, stigma, missing classes, lack of products, cost, lack of knowledge and discomfort. We are thrilled to see that countries are now taking women and their menstrual hygiene seriously and making efforts to normalise periods. This is a great step forward.