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The New Zealand government on Wednesday, June 3, announced that it will provide free sanitary products in schools across the country.
The move comes in an effort to tackle period poverty - a situation where girls or women cannot afford or access sufficient menstrual hygiene products.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that nearly 95,000 girls in the country in the 9-18 years of age are believed to stay at home during their periods due to unaffordable period products.
"By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school," Ardern said in a statement.
"This is another important initiative that sits alongside our work to reduce child poverty and hardship including the $5.5 billion Families Package, free lunches in schools, cheaper visits to the doctors, stopping schools asking for donations, and lifting benefits," Ardern added.
The initiative will be first rolled out at 15 schools in the Waikato region, identified as those most in need, during term three of this year. The program will then extend nationwide to all state and state-integrated schools by 2021 on an opt-in basis. The New Zealand government is investing NZ$2.6 million for the initiative.
According to a health and well-being survey from New Zealand-based Youth19, 12 per cent students in the 9-13 age group, who menstruate, reported difficulty in getting access to products due to cost. Furthermore, nearly one in 12 students reportedly missed school due to lack of access to sanitary products.
"Menstruation is a fact of life for half the population and access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury," Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said.
"We want an Aotearoa New Zealand where all people have access to education and the things they need to live a good life – I am so pleased this Government is finding ways of helping children and young people, at a time when every extra bit of assistance is important," Genter added.Also Read: New Zealand Passes Historic Zero Carbon Bill, Promises Heavy Reduction In Global Warming By 2050
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