Wellington, February 18: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced her government will distribute free sanitary products in schools to combat "period poverty" among the disadvantaged. Free sanitary products will be available in all schools across New Zealand from June this year. The initiative, Jacinda Ardern said, will cost NZ$25 million (US$18 million) over three years.
In a statement, Ardern said: "Providing free period products at school is one way the Government can directly address poverty, help increase school attendance, and make a positive impact on children's well-being. The nationwide initiative comes after a successful pilot program under which free period products were distributed to about 3,200 young people in 15 schools.
"We want to see improved engagement, learning and behavior, fewer young people missing school because of their period, and reduced financial hardship amongst families of participating students," the Prime Minister added. Later speaking to reporters, Ardern cited a research which showed that one in 12 young people skipped school because they did not have access to period products.
Known as a global icon and a champion for women’s rights, Ardern was the youngest female prime minister when she came to power in 2017. She is current serving her second term as prime minister after winning polls held in October last year.