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New Zealand will release free period products for all students




A study led by Dr. Donovan found that students from the Maori and New Zealand Pacific Islander’s immigrant communities, who are statistically more likely to be affected by poverty, were also more likely to be unable to afford the products of the period. Fifteen percent of Maori students and 14 percent of Pacific students missed school because they had no menstrual items, the study showed.

Sanitary ware can cost up to $ 15,000 New Zealand, or $ 10,800, over a lifetime, said Miranda Hitchings, co-founder of Dignity NZ, a for-profit organization that provides free sanitary ware for schools, youth and community organizations.

That’s a significant cost that can be part of a student loan, or a home deposit, she said. But because of the cyclical gender nature of poverty, the next thing that puts women, or men with periods, on their feet.

Before local news reports in 2016 shed light on the poverty rate of the period in New Zealand, there was relatively little public awareness of the problem, she said.

We went and talked to schools and found out that not only was it real, but it was incredibly prevalent, she said. We also found that local people individually, like nurses and schoolteachers, were buying products for their students from their own pockets.

There has also been a sharp rise in poverty in the period since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, she said.

A campaign for free period products gained steam at the end of 2019, when Ms. Hitchings, its co-founder Jacinta Gulasekharam and other activists filed a petition with 3,000 signatures in the Parliament of the countries demanding free period products for all students.

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