The New Zealand government, in their efforts to uplift low-income female students, has rolled out a program that promises free sanitary products.
The program will be first tested in economically backward areas, after which it will be extended for schools across the nation. Schools can opt to participate in the program.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’ s Prime Minister, in a statement said that the decision was taken to help schoolgirls with low economic background. Multiple surveys suggest that many missed classes during their monthly period because they did not have enough money to buy sanitary products. She further added that the move was a show of support to these young girls.
According to KidsCan, a charity organization, almost 5,000 women in New Zealand make do with rags, newspapers, and toilet papers since they cannot afford the marketed sanitary products.
Julie Anne Genter, Minister for Women, made a statement in support of the move. She said that Menstruation was a part of life for women everywhere and that accessing the free sanitary products was their right. She added that since education is a necessity, it has been made accessible to all New Zealanders. Likewise, free sanitary products were a necessity too, and have to be made accessible to every woman in need. She praised the Ardern government and said that support at a critical time like this was much appreciated.
Free Sanitary Products Move Amid Rising Concern Over COVID-19
The program has been launched amid rising concerns that the COVID-19 global pandemic is going to affect low-income families more than ever. Along with job losses, the domestic household is expected to suffer even more. Low-income women are anticipating tougher times with regards to accessing sanitary products.
Julie Chapman, CEO of KidsCan, informed that demand for food supplies in schools has seen an increase of 30 percent.
The program is an addition to the New Zealand government’s initiative to provide a family package of $5.5 billion to low-income families. It includes free lunch at schools, and cheaper medical facilities. The move is towards reducing child poverty and uplifting economic growth in the country.
A local independent organization, Dignity, said that they were happy beyond belief after receiving the good news. The NGO provides free sanitary products to local schools.
Miranda Hitchings, the co-founder of Dignity, said that the inaccessibility of sanitary products not only ostracises the young girls but also puts an unequal burden on their pockets. She further said that the move was in the right direction. But added that the government still needs to work on eradicating many more problems that New Zealanders face.
Another survey by Youth19 discovered that 12 percent of female students from the age of 9-13 face problems with affording sanitary products due to which they skip school.
The free sanitary products will be rolled out for 15 Waikato schools. They have been selected after a thorough search for schools that were in need of help the most. The program goes nationwide in 2021.
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