The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations and Dignity NZ have today released the costings of providing free sanitary items across compulsory and tertiary institutes, off the back of recent announcements in Scotland to provide free sanitary items across all education, and compulosry education (primary, intermediate and secondary) in Wales and the UK.
A 2018 KidsCann survey showed that half of all women had found it difficult to access sanitary items due to cost at some point (8.6% frequently), and a quarter had missed school or work to the lack of access to sanitary wear.
Jacinta Gulasekharam, of Dignity NZ, said that “Period Poverty exists in New Zealand, and it is our duty to make sure no student misses out on school due to lack of access to period products. When a menstruating individual can be expected to pay $15,000 towards sanitary items over their lifetime, it really is a question of fairness. It’s time we followed Scotland, the UK and Wales lead in making these items universally available in all schools in New Zealand”.
NZUSA and Dignity NZ have also recently delivered the costings and additional discussion papers to the office of Minister of Women Julie-Anne Genter, and met with Minister of Education Chris Hipkins to discuss the issue in person. NZUSA and Dignity NZ would like to see politicians use this as an election policy.
“Free sanitary items in tertiary institutes alongside compulsory education is an absolute no-brainer. Providing sustainable, free sanitary items across the entire education sector would come in at approximately $15-$20 million NZD per year, and much less if a less environmentally friendly option were chosen. This cost is minimal compared to the real cost of the lack of access; financial burdens, unhealthy adhoc sanitary item replacements, shame and stigma, and in many schools, teachers and nurses using money from their own pocket to purchase sanitary items for their students. A survey carried out by Wā Colletive in 2016 showed that half of all menstruating individuals between 18-24 years old used the pill and other long term birth control to block their period due to financial reasons” said James Ranstead, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.
More details on the costings and rationale for free sanitary items across the entire education system can be found at the recently launched website: https://www.positiveperiods.co.nz/