Access to free period products
The access to period products initiative aims to provide free period products to children and young people in all state and state-integrated schools and kura across New Zealand during 2021.
Periods are a fact of life for half the population. Despite this, young people don’t always have access to the products they need to feel comfortable at school, engage in their learning, and manage what should be a normal and healthy part of life.
Poor access to period products can affect students’ attendance and engagement at school. Students also miss out on sporting and cultural activities and can feel embarrassed and ashamed about not being supported to manage their periods. This affects their achievement and wellbeing.
Findings from the Youth19 Survey found 12 per cent of year 9 to 13 students who menstruate reported difficulty getting access to products due to cost; and recent research from the University of Otago found that 94,788 girls aged 9 to 18 from the country's poorest households may be unable to afford to buy period products and could be missing school when they have their period.
Providing access to free period products to those who need it in all state and state-integrated schools and kura will:
- reduce barriers to access and improve school attendance, sports involvement and tertiary participation
- improve child and youth wellbeing
- reduce financial strain on families and whānau experiencing poverty/material hardship, and
- promote positive gender norms and reduce stigmatisation of menstruation.
Access to period products is a necessity, not a luxury. The need to access period products exists for every young person who experiences menstruation including young women, girls, transgender, and gender diverse youth, in ways that meet diverse needs and cultural perspectives.
We also know that some families and whānau will be facing increased financial stress as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19. This initiative is also one of a range of approaches to mitigate the impacts of socioeconomic disadvantage and to reduce child poverty.
We started with a trial phase in 15 schools and kura across the Waikato, to understand more about providing period products in schools and kura.
We are now taking a phased approach to rolling out period products in schools and kura across the country.
- Phase one: product delivery to schools and kura by the end of Term 2
- Phase two: refining the distribution model
The Waikato trial phase
Fifteen schools and kura from the Waikato region were invited to take part in a trial phase, providing free period products for up to 3,200 young people with periods. We wanted to work with a small group of schools and young people to understand more about the diverse experiences of young people and the barriers they face, and so we are sure that the products we provide, and the way they are provided, meet their needs.
We worked with five suppliers to test a mix of different pad and tampon products, and ways for students to access these products. These suppliers were chosen for their significant experience in provision of period products and involvement in period poverty programmes.
Suppliers distributed products in various ways, engaging students in the design of their approach. At some schools and kura, students ordered their preferred products for up to three months to take home with them, with additional product available at school for emergencies. Other schools had dispensers installed in the bathrooms or product available for students to access discretely. Products were provided during Term 3 and 4 2020.
The feedback from the trial was overwhelmingly positive. Students emphasised they felt heard and cared for. They also valued having choice, both in product and how it was made available to them. Schools provided feedback on the shift in culture at school as the provision of product helped to reduce the stigma around periods for their students.
List of schools and kura in the Waikato trial phase
|school or kura||district|
|Te Awamutu Intermediate||South Waikato|
|Te Kūiti High School||South Waikato|
|Tokoroa High School||South Waikato|
|Paeroa College||Hauraki/Thames Coromandel|
|Te Kauwhata College||Hauraki/Thames Coromandel|
|Thames South School||Hauraki/Thames Coromandel|
|Raglan Area School||Waikato|
|Fraser High School||Waikato|
|Te Wharekura o te Rau Aroha||Matamata Piako|
|Te Wharekura o te Kaokaoroa o Pātetere||Matamata Piako|
|Putaruru College||Matamata Piako|
|Peachgrove Intermediate||Hamilton City|
|Ngā Taiātea Wharekura||Hamilton City|
|Tai Wānanga Ruakura||Hamilton City|
National implementation phase one: product delivery
In February 2021, the Government announced the national implementation to all state and state-integrated schools and kura across New Zealand on an opt-in basis, starting in June 2021 with funding secured until June 2024.
All state and state-integrated primary, intermediate and secondary schools and kura can now opt-in to receive free period products for their students.
By the end of May around 1,470 schools and kura had opted-in.
Feedback from the trial schools and kura highlighted the urgent need for products. To address this, our primary focus is to deliver products to schools and kura as simply and as quickly as possible.
From mid-June 2021 schools and kura who have opted-in to the initiative are able to order pads and tampons using an existing distribution system.
A variety of packs of pads and tampons are available. These products are easy to use and appropriate for a broad range of students’ age, developmental, and cultural needs in the schooling context. Schools and kura can order based on their roll number, similar to ordering any other essential supply. Enough product will be provided so that students can effectively manage their whole menstrual cycle and can take product home.
We have worked through a tender process to source period products and are working with four successful suppliers Crimson Organic, Organic Initiative, Kimberly-Clark and The Warehouse Group as well as Blue Star as the distributor on operational details.
Schools and kura that opted-in by 31 March 2021 were included in the first product delivery phase with products arriving in schools from 15 June. Schools can continue to opt-in and receive product as we continue through to the second phase of implementation.
National implementation phase two: refining the distribution model
The first product delivery phase will remain in place until we refine a more tailored solution that takes into account feedback from the initial trial with schools, kura and suppliers. This will include a range of solutions to better meet students’ needs for a discreet service that allows them to manage their period and cope with any emergency situations.
We have learnt from the trial that students value choice in the type and size of product provided and how they get it, such as dispensers in bathrooms in case of emergency, ordering a bulk supply or access via a trusted staff member. We are working closely with schools, kura and suppliers on refining the delivery model and how we can do this with minimum burden to schools.
As the initiative develops, we will explore how we can strengthen wider education on periods for learners and the adults around them.
Funding of approximately $100,000 was made available to provide products for the fifteen schools in the Waikato for the trial phase.
Additional funding has been secured for the national roll-out until June 2024
Other wellbeing initiatives
Being able to go to school everyday is important for overall wellbeing. It provides a safe environment where children and young people can grow and learn, build social connections and a sense of belonging, and develop their potential. It has long-term impacts for health, employment opportunities and life choices.
Access to period products removes one of the barriers that prevent children and young people regularly attending school. Providing free period products is one way Government can directly address poverty and positively impact children’s wellbeing.
The initiative complements more than 75 initiatives included in the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy launched in 2019. It sits alongside other initiatives such as free school lunches, cheaper visits to the doctors, and the school donations scheme that will help families with the costs of essentials.
Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback