It might take someone a lot of time to understand India’s problem with menstruation. Because there is not one, not two but a lot of issues that people in India face when they’re on their period. As if the stigma, silence, and misinformation around menstruation were not enough, people in India are also battling period poverty. Their lives literally come to a standstill because of the lack of access to sanitary products. While there are a few good samaritans who are working towards spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene and making low-cost sanitary pads accessible in rural areas, India still has a long way to go.
Maybe we can take a lesson or two from the New Zealand government, which recently announced that it will provide free sanitary products in schools across the country in an effort to tackle period poverty.
“We know that nearly 95,000 nine-to-18-year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products. By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school,” said NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a media statement. The government plans to invest NZ$2.6 million ($1.7 million) in this initiative. The starting of the initiative will be from 15 schools in the Waikato region of the country’s North Island and will then be rolled out in all state schools by 2021.
“Menstruation is a fact of life for half the population and access to these products is a necessity, not a luxury,” said New Zealand’s Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter.
New Zealand isn’t the first country to put a much-needed initiative like this in action. Last year, England announced it would provide free sanitary products to high school students, and in February this year, the Scottish Parliament supported the Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland bill.
Not just in menstruation hygiene, New Zealand is paving the way in many other areas. The country has ended most of its coronavirus lockdown restrictions as it prepares itself for the new normal. And, recently Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also floated the idea of a four-day work week to encourage domestic travel in the wake of the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
We hope that New Zealand serves as a gleaming example for countries struggling with significant issues like period poverty and menstrual hygiene. Especially for a country like India, where sanitary pads are still sold in black packets.
Featured Image: Instagram
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