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New Zealand becomes latest country to offer free sanitary products to schoolgirls

New Zealand becomes latest country to offer free sanitary products to schoolgirls

This week, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that a programme to offer free period products to schoolgirls would be expanded nationwide from June.

New Zealand becomes latest country to offer free sanitary products to schoolgirls

Fifteen schools in the Waikato have already been involved in a six-month Access to Period Products pilot scheme.

Ardern says the initiative addresses a significant, yet often unspoken, issue around poverty.

“We know that nearly 95,000 young people miss out on school and other activities during their periods because they can’t afford products,” the prime minister said.

“Our plan to halve child poverty in 10 years is making a difference, but there is more to do and with families hit hard by the Covid-19 global pandemic it’s important to increase that support in the areas it can make an immediate difference.”

New Zealand is not the first country to implement such an initiative. Here are some of the other countries that offer free sanitary products:

Scotland

Scotland was the first country to make period products freely available to all who need them last November.

Two years prior, Scotland started providing free sanitary products to students at schools, colleges and universities.

England

Free period products were rolled out in all primary and secondary schools in England in January last year.

Wales

In 2020, Wales renewed funding to provide free sanitary products for every college, primary and secondary school across the country.

Local authorities were also allocated funds to provide free period products to women and girls who may otherwise be unable to afford them, making them available in community locations such as libraries and hubs.

Kenya

In 2017, the education act was amended to state “free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels” must be provided to every girl registered at school, as well as providing “a safe and environmental sound mechanism for disposal”.

Australia

Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have all pledged to provide free pads and tampons in government schools in their states.

Victoria was the first state or territory in Australia to ensure every government school student has universal access to free sanitary products.

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