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New Zealand schools will offer free period products to all students

Period. Half The Population Has One. But No One Talks About It.
Period. Half the population has one. But no one talks about it. 22:52

Schools in New Zealand will soon offer free menstrual products to all students. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lack of access to such products, known as period poverty, keeps thousands of young people out of school.

The program will begin in June following a six-month pilot program that provided free period products to about 3,200 students in 15 schools. Ardern said that the "positive response" from the trial encouraged her to expand the initiative nationwide.

"Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population," Ardern said in a statement Thursday. "Removing barriers to healthy, active, educational outcomes for children and young people is an important part of the Government's Youth and Wellbeing Strategy."

She said that the initiative would help increase school attendance and improve children's well-being.

"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," she said.

Last year we decided that it wasn’t good enough that as many as one in twelve students were missing school because they...

Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Arden said research showed one in 12 children missed school due to period poverty — a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities or waste management.

Minister for Women Jan Tinetti said issues surrounding periods in schools include embarrassment, stigma, missing classes, lack of products, cost, lack of knowledge and discomfort.

"Feedback from the pilot noted that providing choice was important, both in types of products and the way they are accessed," said Tinetti, who is also the associate education minister. "Students also said they wanted information about periods, period products, and other practical elements of managing their period such as tracking and knowing when and who to reach out to for assistance."

Ardern said the initiative will cost $17.96 million through 2024, Reuters reports.

Last November, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer period products for free for anyone in public facilities nationwide.

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