New data from the Ministry of Health shows that girls as young as eight are getting their period. The new data shows that nearly half of Kiwi girls will have their period by the time they start high school.
Dr Sarah Donovan, from Otago University’s Department of Public Health, says children in hardship could be particularly affected.
“A lack of access to sanitary items is a serious and hidden equity issue which needs to be addressed to support these young girls, particularly those of primary school age. It’s really a matter of child rights that no girl, of any age, should miss school because her family could not afford menstrual products.”
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KidsCan CEO Julie Chapman says the charity added sanitary items to the list of school essentials it provides more than three years ago, after she found that girls were staying home from school because they didn’t have any products.
“It is an absolute tragedy that girls are missing school because they have their period. Education is their ticket out of poverty, and they shouldn’t be falling behind because of a lack of access to sanitary items. With the help of our donors we’re working hard to change that.”
In 2017, KidsCan supplied students with 15,356 boxes of pads, tampons and liners - an 83 per cent increase in product suppled in 2016. This year, it has already surpassed that total.
Watch the video of a teacher explaining how this affects some young girls.