Positive Periods: The launch of a campaign for free sanitary items in New Zealand

Positive Periods: The launch of a campaign for free sanitary items in New Zealand

In 2016 news reports came out about girls missing out on school due to their periods.

Since then there has been a range of private and charitable initiatives attempt to assist with eradicating period poverty.

Dignity’s mission has always been to make sanitary items accessible to all women in New Zealand. The vehicle for this is a women’s well-being initiative for sanitary items in the workplace with a buy one give one model giving items to high schools around New Zealand. Currently we have 10 corporate partners helping to support over 100 schools from Invercargill to Northland have free, sustainable access to sanitary items each term - a total of 25,000 girls have access. Dignity are now looking to increase their beneficiary base to provide impact to the Red Cross, Family Planning clinics and the Pacific Islands.

Other initiatives fighting against period poverty include KidsCan and Salvation army, who use a traditional charity grant and donation based model. There are alternative products on the market such as period underwear from I am Eva who have a buy one give one initiative. Several menstrual cup companies such as MyCup, Wa Collective and Hello Cup have impact initiatives with each purchase. Other groups such as Nope Sisters and The Period Place support and promote these initiatives through feminist clothing and period marketplaces.

What all of these groups have in common is a collective goal to eradicate period poverty from New Zealand.

Positive Periods is a campaign aiming to get free sanitary items provided by the government in all New Zealand schools. It has a discussion paper outlining policy solutions and costings for each of the recommendations. If you are keen to dive into the costings a little more you can download the spreadsheet which has all the pivots tables and method outline if you’re that way inclined.

Our preferred recommendation includes the provision of organic pads and tampons as well as 25% renewable items of menstrual cups and period underwear alongside consistent, compulsory period education. The pricing is higher than expected as we’ve used publicly available, retail pricing for the items.

Why is it called Positive Periods you may ask? We want is for every young person to have a positive and dignified experience with their period, regardless of the decile of the school that you attend.

We have always felt the Dignity initiative is a band-aid solution until period poverty has become better understood and that a policy solution would be a feasible option. With the likes of Scotland, Wales and the UK mandating free sanitary items in schools we can take their learnings, research and policy ideas here to make sure periods are a positive experience for every young person.

This campaign needs support and it also needs challenge. Challenges to the assumptions and solutions put in place. Support in terms of making this idea a reality.

Please read and send feedback on the discussion paper. Sign up to the mailing list for updates and to find out how you can get involved in this campaign.

Ultimately what we want is for no student to ever be caught short, feel embarrassed or not have the financial means of access to period products, period.

Let’s make periods a positive experience for young people.

Watch the AM Show interview on the campaign launch here.

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