Government to tackle period poverty before Budget 2020

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.
Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter. Photo credit: Newshub

Momentum is building within Parliament to tackle period poverty in New Zealand.

The Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has told industry leaders work in the space is progressing and an announcement on the topic will happen before Budget 2020.

The announcement was made at the presentation of the Positive Periods campaign petition at Parliament. The petition urged the Government to provide free sanitary products in schools and menstrual health education. There were 3500 signatures in 90 days. 

"The approach of many jurisdictions and particularly in Scotland is one of period equity. It's actually about all women, and all women having equal access to products and not being penalised".

"Approaching policy from the perspective of universal access and equity is probably the right way to go," Genter said.

A task force made up of different ministries including education and health are working together to develop solutions.

"This is a priority for the Government, it's a priority for the Prime Minister and I'm very confident we will have an announcement before the Budget."

"The education element has certainly been raised and I think it's something the Government does need to consider how we can improve education to all New Zealanders about these issues".

Positive Periods Campaign lead and co-founder of Dignity NZ Jacinta Gulasekharam is welcoming the move.

"I want to see a commitment from the Government to have provision of products in all schools and having that included range of items and have better menstrual health education".

"More details would be great, it seems like we'll still be in the dark going into Christmas and there's a bit of a cone of silence around what's actually going to happen on this issue."

Gulasekharam says it would be helpful to have a bipartisan approach.

"I don't think period poverty is a political issue, I think it's a health and wellbeing issue".

Newshub previously revealed Julie Anne Genter tried to get funding across the line before Budget 2019 by lobbying several Government Ministers, but there was no cash in the Budget.

A 2018 KidsCan survey found a quarter of New Zealand women who responded missed school or work because they have been unable to afford sanitary items.