Female students using 'newspaper, rags' during period due to tampon costs
Some young Kiwi women are skipping classes when they have their period because they can't afford to buy sanitary products, a Labour MP says.
Louisa Wall has helped launch a programme, supported by Countdown and the Salvation Army, to help supply women with the products they need.
"Female sanitary products aren't a luxury, but for young Kiwi women on tight budgets they're an expense that's hard to afford," the Manurewa MP says.
Ms Wall says some women stay home from university or school because they can't afford to buy tampons or pads, which can cost a woman between $5 and $15 a week.
* Why periods were suddenly newsworthy in 2015
* Period costs prohibitive for girls, as new donation drive launched
* 'No blood should hold us back,' says sanitary towel ad
* New Flex tampons allow women to have sex during their period
"Others resort to makeshift or unhygienic measures such as recycling used pads or improvising pads from old clothes, rags newspaper and other materials - putting them at risk of infection and illness."
The 'Women's Hygiene Bundle' is part of the Salvation Army's Foodbank project, and a donation - encouraged monthly - of $15 dollars can give women the products they need.
Countdown supplier Kimberley Clark kickstarted the campaign with $2,500 worth of sanitary products as a donation.
Major Pam Waugh, head of Salvation Army Community Ministries, said it's particularly concerning women might be missing out on their education because they have their period.
"We know that poverty can follow people throughout their lifetime, so it's essential students who are making every effort to improve their future prospects are not held back because it's 'that time of the month'."
Salvation Army territorial public relations director Shane Chisholm said the charity gets good support from the community with donations of food, but not many people think about the health of their clients and the need for sanitary products.
"It's not just a women's issue, it's a community issue."
And it's not just a community issue in New Zealand.
New York state was last week forced to repeal a tax on tampons and pads after a backlash that the tax was sexist.
Female legislators had complained other personal products, including condoms and bandages, are tax-free.
The new law exempts tampons, sanitary napkins and panty liners from the 4 per cent state sales tax and from local taxes that generally are about 5 per cent.
Comments on this article have now closed