The Government has committed to action on the issue of period poverty, with Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter promising progress on this issue before next year’s budget.
This comes as a petition calling on the Government to provide period products for all students, which gathered more than 3000 signatures, was presented to Genter and other MPs in Parliament this morning.
Speaking at an event, Genter said the issue of period poverty was a priority for the Government and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“I’m very confident that we will have an announcement before the budget about progress on this.”
Genter said period poverty – whereby a woman is unable to access sanitary products because of financial constrains – affects many women across the country.
In fact, information from data gathering organisation Youth 19 NZ showed that of 7700 young women surveyed, 13 per cent said they found it difficult to get sanitary items because of cost.
That number was closer to 20 per cent when it came to Māori and Pacific peoples.
The data also showed that close to one in 10 young women miss school because of their period.
“We want an Aotearoa New Zealand where all people have access to education and the things they need to live a good life,” Genter said.
Although she has promised action in this area, she would not reveal any details on the upcoming announcement.
But she hinted the Government would be implementing a similar scheme to the one in Scotland, where the Government offered free sanitary products to girls in schools.
“Women and girls need to have access to a range of products that will meet their particular needs,” Genter said.
The petition was presented to MPs by Jacinta Gulasekharam, co-founder of Dignity – an organisation which provides access to sanitary items for all women in New Zealand.
Speaking to media this morning, she said it was a relief to hand the petition over.
She welcomed the Government’s moves but said she was waiting to hear more details of the Government’s plan before she got too excited.
“It seems like we’re still going to be in the dark going into Christmas and there is still a bit of a cone of silence around what’s actually going to happen on this issue.”
She wants to see a commitment from the Government to have sanitary products in all schools across the country, and those products to include a range of items.
Gulasekharam is also called on the Government to provide better menstrual health education for women and young girls.
“Education is just as important as the products being there.”