New Zealand has become the latest country to stamp down on period poverty by giving out free sanitary products to all of their school girls.
Here's the full story...
Now, let's talk about periods for a second.
via: Getty Images
Periods have become a somewhat taboo topic over the years, despite them being a completely natural part of the female body and routine.
So, what actually happens?
In a simple explanation, the cycle involves the removal of an unfertilized egg with the lining of the womb.
That's literally it - there's nothing repulsive about it.
So why is it considered such a taboo subject?
via: GettyFor centuries now, the topic of women's periods have been kept on the hush-hush, and it's all because society has stigmatized it.
And, even though the times are slowly changing, some cultures aren't...
via: Getty Images
In India and other parts of Asia, the idea that a woman can be on her period seems to be too hard to accept - girls as young as eleven have been shunned while on their period in a "cleansing custom."
So, this is why we need to be more open about the topic.
via: GettyHowever, rather than talking about how to help normalize the process, there is another issue that needs to be addressed.
Period poverty is real, and it affects the lives of millions of young girls and women all over the world.
According to the sanitary manufacturer, BodyForm, period poverty means being unable to access sanitary products and having poor knowledge of menstruation often due to financial constraints.
Sadly, sanitary products are classified as "luxury items"...
via: GettyAnd, therefore, can be incredibly expensive, especially for those from lower-income households.
For years now, women all over the world have called for an end of this "period tax"...
via: GettyAnd they have been urging governments to provide schools and workplaces with free sanitary products.
However, these calls have mostly fallen upon deaf ears.
via: GettySo far, Scotland has been the only country to take action, with their parliament approving plans this year to make sanitary products freely available to women in public spaces such as public restrooms, community centers, and youth clubs.
But now, one more country has joined the fight against period poverty...
via: GettyAnd they have promised to provide all school girls with free sanitary products.
Yep, New Zealand has taken a huge step forward for all its young girls and women.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said last year that sanitary supplies for a monthly period were not a luxury, but a necessity, and that too many girls were skipping school because they weren't able to afford pads and tampons.
The statistics from schools across the country were shocking...
via: GettyIt was found that the schools in deprived areas had reported girls being forced to use toilet paper, newspaper, and rags in an attempt to manage their period.
Ardern wants to put an end to this poverty once and for all.
So, in June 2020, the prime minister revealed that fifteen Waikato-based schools – which were identified as those most in need – were given access to free products on a trial period.
On her decision, she explained:
via: Getty“We know that nearly 95,000 9-to-eighteen-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."
And this was only the beginning.
via: GettyMiranda Hitchings, the co-founder of New Zealand based sanitary product charity, Dignity, said: “It’s a fantastic investment from our government. However, this is just the beginning. Period poverty doesn’t just affect students. It’s a subset of poverty, and many other groups, like those experiencing homelessness and income loss, deeply feel the implications from a lack of access to products."
Ardern's move sparked praise from people all over the world...
Sanitary products should be made FREE all over the world. School age girls often miss school during their period du… https://t.co/DnA4Aus7KY— Kenny Adazie (@Kenny Adazie)1591262041.0
With many pointing out the excellent example of female leadership she is demonstrating to the rest of the world.
And now, 8 months on from the initial trial, Ardern has come forward with another exciting announcement.
Following the success of a pilot program, Ardern said the initiative will aim to address poverty, increase school attendance, and make a positive impact on children's wellbeing.
In her announcement, 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."
Ardern then revealed that thanks to the positive response from the trialed fifteen schools, the program will be rolled out across all New Zealand schools.
"The positive response from schools and students to the pilot has encouraged us to expand the initiative to all New Zealand schools and kura."
"We want to see improved engagement, learning and behaviour, fewer young people missing school because of their period, and reduced financial hardship amongst families of participating students."
Now that's what I call leadership.