First free period products delivered to schools in period poverty scheme

The first tampons and pads have been delivered to schools after the Government committed $25 million to combating period poverty.

For the students at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, having free and easy access to period products could mean the difference between missing days of class every month, or staying in school.

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Year 13 Kendall Bramley said she saw a lot of her friends struggle when they came to school and didn’t have any period products.

“They’re too scared to ask the nurse for them as they don’t feel comfortable.”

As part of the school’s Health Council, she’s one of the students responsible for designing how the scheme will work.

One of the most important things is that the products are easily available for students to help themselves to.

The Health Council sat down with Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti on Tuesday after the first products had arrived.

Tinetti said tackling period poverty was the driver behind getting free products into schools.

She said, as a school principal in Tauranga, she had seen children regularly miss schools because their families could not afford pads or tampons.

They would use makeshift materials instead, but would often stay home because of the shame of not being able to manage their periods, she said.

Nearly 100,000 children could be at risk of skipping school because of period poverty, according to a 2019 study by the University of Otago.

School nurse Belinda Lee said she’d seen first-hand how attendance was impacted by periods.

“A lot is related to heavy periods or access to period products.

“It means they’re not coming to school.”

More than 1500 schools and kura have opted in to receive free period products, giving 75 per cent of eligible students access to the products.

The first stage of the programme involves getting products out to schools, Tinetti said. Further down the track, education about menstruation will be included and they will also look into the possibility of providing sustainable options.

“We want to get this right,” she said. “It’s too important to get wrong.”

 

Original article by Josephine Franks for Stuff.co.nz