Period poverty leads to rangatahi missing school

Child Poverty Action Group welcomes Youth19 survey research results, and says the Government needs to do more to ensure students don’t miss out on school due to period poverty.

New research conducted by Dr Terry Fleming (Te Herenga Waka) and Associate Professor Terryann Clark (University of Auckland and Child Poverty Action Group Whangarei) highlights ‘a significant number of New Zealand teenagers are missing school because they cannot afford menstrual products, contributing to inequity in New Zealand’.

The study found that 8% of students with periods missed school because of a lack of menstrual items. It also found that Māori and Pacific students are disproportionately impacted by period poverty with almost 1 in 12 Māori and Pacific students missing school once a month or more because they did not have menstrual items.

Professor Innes Asher, a health spokesperson for Child Poverty Action Group’s says “Young people deserve equal opportunities to learn and to be dignified. It is unacceptable for any student to miss out on educational opportunities because family incomes are insufficient to cover necessities such as menstrual items. Period poverty has ongoing impacts on young people’s lives, and especially impacts Māori and Pacific youth’.

Child Poverty Action Group calls upon the Government to urgently reduce poverty and improve access to menstrual products in schools. ‘Improving income adequacy would allow families to ensure their tamariki have all the resources they need to thrive at school’ adds Professor Asher.

The Government’s Welfare Expert Advisory Group Report February 2019 called for immediate steps to increase incomes. The principles of the Government’s Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy September 2019 need to be met and upheld, and its priority of reducing child poverty and mitigating the effects of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage. We are looking to the Government to act on its own reports to ensure all school children are free from period poverty.