The first time we saw that students were missing school because of lack of access to period products we were heart broken. It made no sense that a first world country like New Zealand had young people missing out on education due to lack of access to basic, necessary products. We wanted to do something, and through a business bootcamp we built the Dignity initiative - with a buy one give one model at the centre of our impact model.
We wanted to make a difference with sustainable, ongoing donations and provide a range of choice. At this time, there was a significant lack of data and awareness around the concept of period poverty. Early on we knew it was critical to research this issue, and report on our impact to ensure Dignity was robust.
As we started to gain traction, we realised that Dignity was a fantastic initiative, but not a systemic solution. We decided that in parallel to our programme, we also needed to create awareness for the issue, in the hopes that there would be a better long term solution.
From our impact reporting, we know that during New Zealand’s school Term 1 2019, 72% of Dignity schools mentioned that a core outcome of having free period products was that their students were able to stay in school when they had their period.
When we saw the UK, Wales and Scotland make period products free in 2018 for all students we saw what was possible. Dignity was a leading organisation in the Positive Periods campaign to make period products free for students and now that will be a reality in 2021.
Last week was a whirlwind to wrap our heads around. The fact we have a progressive government acknowledging period poverty exists and committing to free products is incredible.
We are ecstatic. These are schools we’ve been supporting for almost 4 years with over 28,000 boxes or organic tampons, pads, menstrual cups and period underwear through our buy one give one model and newly launched Give Two initiative.
But the work is not done yet.
Soon we will be researching the impacts of period poverty during Covid-19 and the lockdown period to further shed light on this issue.
Term 1 2021 is still 235 days away and we need to continue to support the 120 schools we partner with until the government opt-in program is rolled out. And we will continue to support schools if there is still demand for Dignity in 2021 and beyond.
We believe that it’s a fantastic investment from our government. However, this is just the beginning. Period poverty doesn’t just affect students. It's a subset of poverty, and many other groups, like those experiencing homelessness and income loss, deeply feel the implications from a lack of access to products.
We have many community groups we support across the country and need to bring awareness to. Family Planning, Wellington Women’s Homeless Shelter, Dress for Success and many more partner with us to support their community. If you have other groups that would like to receive our give one product please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We are looking forward to seeing the start of this government policy and continuing to support, advocate and provide a choice of period products for all menstruating people across New Zealand.
Thank you for following, supporting and encouraging us along our journey.
Aroha nui ❤
Jacinta & Miranda