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Dignity calls for free access to sanitary items

Dignity calls on the government to support free access to sanitary items as social enterprise expands to help all Young Parent colleges


Dignity is calling on the Government to provide free sanitary products in all schools across the country to ensure girls have dignity and autonomy to access products of their choice when needed.

Dignity co-founder Jacinta Gulasekharam says this is something that the UK, Scottish and Welsh government provides and it would be great to see it happening in New Zealand

"We believe women have a right to access these items and should be able to without the cost or stigma associated. Having a range of options provided gives women the choice of product that they feel best suits their preferences, this comes from our mission of providing Dignity to women.”

The New Zealand social enterprise Dignity that provides a women's well being initiative for sanitary items in the workplace, with a buy one give one model, has now grown to support all 25 Young Parent Colleges nationwide.

Corporate partners including ANZ, Xero, Cigna, New Zealand Post, SilverStripe and Yellow currently support the Dignity initiative providing sanitary items in their workplaces, schools and community organisations in need around New Zealand.

Term 2 2019 has seen the social enterprise send 4500 boxes of sanitary items to 50 schools. In total the social enterprise has sent 18,551 donations to over 95 schools and organisations across New Zealand in two years of operating.

In total, Dignity has supplied 1,300 boxes of free tampons, pads and menstrual cups to all the Young Parent Colleges from the Organic Initiative range.

Terri Cunningham from He Matariki Teen Parent School was delighted with the arrival of the donated products:
“Thank you for the wonderful box of sanitary products that arrived last week! Our young mums are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, sustainability and the health and other benefits of using organic products - though sadly they can’t afford to buy them. This is very timely and much appreciated – I know the students are very grateful for your generosity.”

One Teen Parent Unit (TPU) manager commented “having a variety of products will allow the young mothers to feel secure about spending money on baby's needs or other specific needs for themselves.”

Another TPU manager said “This is an important issue that is unspoken about in society - women's access to sanitary items and the effect poverty has on this.”

The partnership was established from an email sent to the Dignity team in February in which spoke about “our students are frequently going without just so they can feed their children. This deprivation includes going without sanitary products. Because these are luxury items for them, they are frequently unprepared and it is not unusual for them to get caught short then soil clothes which then creates more issues for them., I now have a dream about partnering with an organisation like yours to reduce period poverty for our vulnerable students on a national scale.”

The partnership was a natural fit and an expansion from the current schools the Dignity initiative supports.

Co-founders of the Dignity initiative Jacinta Gulasekharam and Miranda Hitchings believe this is a great milestone in their journey to ensure women have free access to sanitary items.

Just 21-years-old at the time, they launched the business while studying at Victoria University to bring an end to period poverty in New Zealand high schools and have now expanded their impact to include all Young Parent Colleges.


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