NZ Government rolling free period products out in June 2021.

NZ Government rolling free period products out in June 2021.

It is amazing to see the feedback from the free period products initial rollout in the Waikato. 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 creating long term educational disadvantages for girls and menstruating people. 

At Dignity, our four years of impact reporting indicate that providing free period products reduces stigma, increases confidence and ensures that students are able to attend school. 

The announcement today gives certainty to schools of when they can expect to have access to free period products from the government programme.

It’s incredible to think that the anxiety facing many young students, who haven’t known if they will have products for their next period, now have certainty that from June supplies will be there for them. 

However, we are very interested in how the products will be accessed by students. Our research indicates that having period products freely available, without having to ask (i.e. in a bathroom or common space) is the best way to reduce stigma and ensure people feel students enough to use them. 

Period inequity can be a hidden issue so we urge that schools, even those of higher deciles, opt in.

A lot of schools have been asking us where they can opt in to this program and order products, we hope this is communicated well prior to the roll out. 

The Government has noted the importance of providing choice, so that no one is excluded. This is a fundamental value to Dignity. Our hope is that the government provides a range of options and sizes. 

We also hope the government keeps sustainability front of mind given the Government’s target towards lower emissions and consider offering environmental options (menstrual cups, period underwear, reusable pads) as part of the roll out. 

Given the impact of Covid19, it is more important than ever to support local business and that includes Government procurement. We would love to see a focus on Aotearoa based suppliers to support the local economy. 

Providing free period products is not just about access, it is about fundamentally improving an inequity experienced by half the population.  

We are very willing and open to work alongside the Government on a smooth roll out to supplement the communication and supply of products to the schools we currently support.

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.

The Government rollout for period products in schools allows Dignity to increase support towards those impacted by period poverty outside of the school system and deliver period equity for all.

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