Schools thankful for free period products

The price of women's sanitary products has in recent years become a social issue in New Zealand....
Photo: Getty Images
Many of Dunedin’s girls’ and co-educational intermediate and secondary schools are opting into the Government’s initiative to provide them with free period products.

All New Zealand state and state-integrated primary, intermediate and secondary schools and kura can opt into the initiative, which aims to give their pupils access to free products.

Schools that opted in before the end of March would be included in phase 1 and receive products from the end of term 2.

Other schools can continue to opt in and will be included in later phases of the roll-out.

Dunedin North Intermediate (DNI), Queen’s High School, Logan Park High School, Kaikorai Valley College, Kavanagh College, Columba College and St Hilda’s Collegiate School are among schools to have already joined the initiative.

Many school principals highlighted the expensive costs of products and the stress that could put on families as their reason for registering.

Otago Secondary Principals’ Association president and Blue Mountain College principal Lindy Cavanagh-Monaghan said the initiative would help schools cut costs, as they already provided period products.
"Each school has to use operations grant funding to purchase these currently, so having them supplied centrally will free up a little funding from what are extremely tight budgets," Ms Cavanagh-Monaghan said.

Blue Mountain College, in Tapanui, opted in.

DNI principal Heidi Hayward said the initiative was brilliant.

"There is no escaping that 50% of the population need sustainable access to sanitary products every month," Ms Hayward said.

"It is ludicrous that they cost so much, and the cost is a very real issue for many whanau."

The school had supplied period products to pupils at its own cost

for many years, she said.

Kavanagh College principal Kate Nicholson said opting in allowed the school to financially support families, as period products were expensive.

She appreciated any Government initiative which helped to reduce barriers to girls’ school attendance.

"We don’t want girls’ education and, as a result their future life choices, to be affected by what is a perfectly normal and natural part of life," Mrs Nicholson.

Kaikorai Valley College principal Rick Geerlofs said the school wanted to remove any stigma attached to providing the products.

The school tended to discreetly distribute products to all girl pupils, Mr Geerlofs said.

St Hilda’s Collegiate School deputy principal Shannon Prentice said it was a positive initiative to support all young women and the school was thrilled the Government had taken steps to address the issue.

The initiative aims to reduce barriers to access and improve school attendance, sports involvement and tertiary participation; improve child and youth wellbeing; reduce financial stress on families and whanau; and promote self-confidence and a positive view of menstruation.

Initially, schools will be supplied with pads and tampons. Alternative products will be considered as the initiative develops.

Funding has been secured until June 2024.

The Government trialled the initiative in 15 Waikato schools last year and received positive feedback from pupils.


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