Students will soon have access to free period products across New Zealand, following a similar move in Scotland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday that all schools would offer free menstrual products for the next three years, at a cost of about $18 million. The products will be made available at primary, intermediate, and secondary schools beginning in June, per the New York Times. This comes after a pilot program involving 3,200 students in 15 schools in New Zealand's Waikato region. Ardern said the goal was to "address poverty, help increase school attendance, and make a positive impact on children's wellbeing," per the Guardian.
One study published last year found up to 20,000 New Zealand students were at risk of "period poverty," or being unable to afford tampons, pads, or other products. Another study found one in six or seven Maori and Pasifika students had missed school because they lacked these items. "Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population," Ardern said. The Guardian describes implications for education, health, emotional development, and career prospects. An advocate tells the Times that a person can spend more than $10,000 on period products during their lifetime. (A New Zealand supermarket's approach to period products made waves last year.)