The Big Issues: Period Poverty in Schools

The Big Issues: Period Poverty in Schools

The people reading this blog would have already dealt with periods at school. Poignant memories of nappy sized pads bulking up the butt. A flash of undies under the school skirt with visible wings to be seen. The emergency case when blood escapes and ends up as spotting on your uniform. Urgh, why do I only have my Learners licence?! I would be so out of this hell hole!!  

The grief, the jokes, the humiliation. Periods at school sucks. Some of us were lucky enough to have the sanitary items to deal with our monthly cycle – others were not. #PeriodPoverty become a widespread issue by 2020 and an election policy for the Labour government. 

Findings from the Youth19 Survey found 12% of year 9 to 13 students who menstruate reported difficulty getting access to products due to cost; and recent research from the University of Otago found that 94,788 girls aged 9 to 18 from the country's poorest households may be unable to afford to buy products and could be missing school when they have their period.  
[source: Ikura|Manaakitia te whare tangata Period products in schools] 

“Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population,” said Jacinda Ardern. The former Prime Minister announced in 2021 the Ikura | Manaakitia te whare tangata initiative to provide free sanitary products in state schools. The previous year they ran a pilot programme providing free period products to 15 schools in the Waikato and the results were ‘overwhelmingly’ positive.  

The stigma was quashed, girls felt comfortable coming to school on their flow and they wanted to learn more. The programme is now fully funded until 2024 and 2,130 schools, kura, activity centres and alternative education providers had opted-in to the initiative.  

It's crazy to think that it’s taken this long for the education sector to adequately equip pubescent girls... ahem, globally. This movement only started gaining traction with Scotland in 2020 when they publicly announced that they would make period products free. 

While we celebrate this initiative to end period poverty in New Zealand, we are still concerned about adverse effects this would have on our environment. Free menstrual products in schools are only extended to disposables. A menstruating female can go through 35 or more disposable period products per period!  

We are strongly advocating for sustainable period products to be included in sexual education and in this initiative. Including MyCup and Love Luna products into this initiative will end period poverty sustainably.  

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