An important campaign is underway to supply sanitary products to young women who are missing out on school and university because of the cost of sanitary products.
The high cost of tampons and sanitary pads is causing students so much financial stress, that using “newspaper, telephone books or rags” has become a real option for some, reports Radio New Zealand.
The Salvation Army, along with Countdown supermarket and Labour MP Louisa Wall, have combined their efforts to raise awareness of this issue, and to call for donations of sanitary products for young women in need.
Wall, Labour’s Youth Affairs spokesperson, launched the campaign after she’d been contacted for help by a large South Auckland high school.
A former student of James Cook High, she said the issue of not having access to hygiene and sanitary products was causing real problems for female students, with some not being able to attend school when they had their period, or being forced to make do with whatever could be found.
“The loss of dignity for our young women, and having to do that, means it’s incumbent on us to provide them with the products that they need - and sanitary products are a necessity, they are not a luxury,” she told RNZ.
Victoria University of Wellington students, who had gathered outside the Salvation Army Office in Wellington yesterday, said “they’d had to devise all sorts of strategies, when they could not afford sanitary products”.
University student Emma Burgh said she’d had to make sacrifices to afford the products, like passing up food and hanging out with friends, while another student said the cost of tampons and pads was “ridiculously expensive”.
A month’s supply of tampons or pads can cost between $5 and $15 per month, with the expense running into many hundreds of dollars for families over a year.
Salvation Army spokesman,Shane Chisholm, said there was more demand than ever for the products.
Supermarket chain, Countdown, have stepped up and helped through supplier donations totaling $3500.
Kidscan have also helped by supplying sanitary products to 568 primary, intermediate and high schools, paying for the products from their own budget.
In the last three months, they’ve supplied 3900 items to schools, with funding from the Ministry of Social Development.
Julia Haydon-Carr, health manager for the charitable trust ,said schools they’d supplied had told them that some teachers were paying for products out of their own purses.
The issue, which also forced some girls to miss school, she said, needed to be addressed.
Donations of sanitary products can be made through the Foodbank Project.