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Period poverty is an issue that isn’t spoken about as often as it should be, but is in fact a harsh reality for many people who get periods around the world, including here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Put simply, period poverty means being unable to afford period products, as well as having other barriers to access, such as education, vulnerable living situations and stigma.
It can lead to people missing out on school, work and other important life activities and can cause unfair disadvantage, embarrassment and shame.
In 2019, researchers from four universities collaborated to survey over 7,700 students in New Zealand. The results provided, for the first time, a nationally representative picture of the scale of the problem. The study showed an alarming 8% of students who menstruated reported missing school due to lack of period products. Maori and Pasifika students were disproportionately impacted, with 1 in 12 surveyed reporting missing school every month.
Last year, The Warehouse stepped in to help, launching a range of affordable $1 period products. For every ten sold, The Warehouse also donates a pack to its community partners – Women’s Refuge and The Period Place to reach Kiwis in need. Close to 40,000 period products have been donated through the initiative already.
Now as part of a new national partnership, The Warehouse is teaming up with the Period Place to launch collection boxes at ten stores across Auckland, Northland and Waikato where customers can donate period products directly to local community groups to reach people in need.
The Warehouse Chief Product Officer, Tania Benyon, says that access to period products in New Zealand should be a given, not a nice to have.
“When we learned how widespread the issue of access to period products was, and that a large number of young people had missed school because they were struggling to access products, we wanted to help break down the barriers.”
“Our customers wanted to know how they could get involved too, which is why in partnership with The Period Place, we are providing customer donation boxes in our stores so Kiwis can support their local communities directly.”
The Period Place works at the critical intersection of menstruators and their needs by creating sustainable change for them, their families, and their communities through conversation, education and access.
The Period Place Co-founder and CEO Danika Revell says, “This partnership shows a genuine commitment from The Warehouse to support our vision to eliminate period poverty from Aotearoa by 2030.
“By offering donation boxes in The Warehouse stores, we’re making it easy for Kiwis to contribute to the goal of eliminating period poverty, and support people who are facing period inequity in their local communities.”
“Aotearoa is built on a philosophy of people supporting people. With this mahi we are empowering community groups to do what they do best, support their community. By partnering with them we’re able to get period products and education to those that need it quickly, ensuring greater collective support and impact.”
New products collected in the boxes, either purchased at The Warehouse or elsewhere, will be donated through The Period Place to local community groups who support people with barriers to access - such as cost, vulnerable living situations and education. Alongside the donated products will be educational material from The Period Place about period cycles and types of period products available.
“We want customers to know that every time they buy products to add to these donation boxes, they're ensuring young people can keep attending school, single parents won't have to choose between food and period products, and that people facing difficult circumstances are afforded the dignity they deserve."
The Warehouse will also house an educational hub on its website called the Period Portal, where customers can learn more about periods, period poverty in New Zealand and make a donation to help get period products and educational resources to Kiwis in need.
The collection boxes will be available in Kaitaia and Kaikohe in Northland; Manukau, Clendon, Royal Oak and Lunn Ave in Auckland and Te Rapa, Hamilton, Cambridge and Morrinsville in Waikato from today.
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