New Zealand is Ending Period Poverty, But What Is The Rest Of The World Doing?
is when someone is unable to access menstrual items for their period due to a lack of money. This can lead to missing days off school and work and withdrawing from other important activities. It is reported that women and young girls will often resort to using items such as rags, toilet paper, newspapers and plastic bags. All of which may lead to serious health problems, due to the items being unsanitary.
“For students, a lack of access to period products not only exacerbates feelings of shame and a gendered financial burden but has shown to increase absenteeism.”
The general belief is that period poverty is a third world issue, but the problem has also been identified in the western world, and continues to grow, with 1 in 10 girls in the U.K. unable to afford menstrual products, while 1 in 7 have struggled to afford them, according to a representative survey of 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21 by Plan International UK. It is unimaginable what these girls' go through. Periods are challenging enough, without the added pressure of not having ways to manage them at your dispose?
“Menstruation is a fact of life for half the population and access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury,”
The New Zealand government recently announced that girls in high school will no longer have to pay for sanitary products after the government announced it would foot the bill, all in effort to reduce period poverty.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated - sanitary supplies for a monthly period were not a luxury, but a necessity and too many girls were skipping school because they weren’t able to afford pads and tampons.
So what is the rest of the world setting in place to hep young girls and women? Governments worldwide have made a commitment to end period poverty worldwide by 2030.
For example, the Scottish government implemented a programme of free menstrual products in all schools and 84% of students reported the scheme had a positive impact for them. There is also an increasing number of primary school aged pupils who are menstruating, therefore, solutions will include primary students too.
“When you, through no fault of your own, don’t have access to basic human needs, that really impacts how you see yourself, it erodes your sense of worth, your sense of self, your sense of mana.”
School counsellor at He Huarahi Tamariki School
The Labour coalition government aims to halve child poverty in a decade, and Ardern said while that task had been made more complex by the implications of Covid-19, it was important to invest in programmes that would make an “immediate difference” to the lives of deprived girls around the country.