Period poverty is real. Period.
And it's happening in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Adults and teens alike are resorting to stuffing rags, toilet paper, nappies and socks in their underwear, because they and their families can’t afford menstrual products. Or even if they do have some sanitary products, they use tampons and pads longer than is hygienic. And when these dangerous and uncomfortable options don’t work, they are forced to stay home from work and school out of shame and discomfort, losing days of earnings and education.
The annual Youth19 NZ research showed that of the 7700 young people with periods surveyed:
- 13% said they found it difficult to get menstrual products
- that figure was closer to 20% for Māori and Pacific people
- 10% said that they had missed school because of periods.
72% of New Zealand schools said they believed that having free period products available would help their students stay in school when they had their period.
KidsCan's 2018 survey of 5000 women and girls in New Zealand found that:
1. 53% had found it difficult to afford sanitary items at some point, and 30% said they had to prioritise buying other items like food, over sanitary items
2. 23% had missed school or work due to lack of sanitary care
3. 29% of under 17 year olds had missed school due to lack of sanitary care
Periods are starting earlier. The University of Otago revealed that 6% girls now start their period before college - so very young girls are facing shame, stress and impacted education.
Periods are expensive - NZ menstruators spend almost $16,000 in their lifetime on period care products. Period Poverty is a brutal reality in New Zealand, right now. Poverty is huge to deal with, without worrying about how you’re going to afford menstrual products. Enough is enough.
In 2019, we took our belief that all New Zealand schoolgirls should have access to free, reusable period products to Parliament, with meetings with Ministers and submitted a petition with the Positive Periods group, to lobby for Political change and urge the government to make accessible to all students. And in June 2021 the government finally agreed to address period poverty in schools by rolling out free period products in over 1600 schools and kura across the country. But we aren't done, our next step is to push for reusable period products in the 2024 review.
Our Designed to Give policy
AWWA was created with a passionate commitment to fighting Period Poverty in New Zealand. We are part of a global movement to end period poverty and to ensure that all girls and women have access to menstrual products.
AWWA seeks to contribute to the communities in which we live and work in a number of ways. In addition to providing employment opportunities and minimising our environmental impact, we support a variety of community organisations, schools and not for profit entities through the donation of period underwear.
The objective is to ensure that no individual with a period is forced to miss out on education or work due to having inadequate access to period products. Period poverty and the impact this has on an individuals life is a contributing factor to the inequalities between the genders and socio-economic groups within society.
Period poverty is an issue facing large numbers of individuals and whānau throughout Aotearoa. When an individual is unable to access adequate period products they frequently miss school or work, and are forced to use substandard, unhygienic alternatives, such as toilet paper or rags.
By donating product, AWWA is able to instantly liberate individuals to go to school, work and remain an active participant in all aspects of their life and within their community.
Our charitable giving scheme:
AWWA will make product donations to our approved charities and partners (such as; Dignity, Women's Refuge, Unicef and Auckland Refugee Centre), schools and other not for profit entities throughout the financial year.
Committed to donating the equivalent of 2% revenue (by way of product donations) in every financial year.
The quantity of each donation is determined by the needs identified by our charity partners, schools and communities in which the donation is being made>
AWWA will consult with partners/schools to determine the most effective way to distribute the underwear, and deliver the greatest positive impact for individuals and communities.
Recipients of the underwear complete an anonymous impact survey 2-3 months after donation to enable AWWA to effectively measure impact and determine if long term outcomes are being achieved.
What we hope to achieve:
Reduce/eradicate period poverty in Aotearoa
Reduce inequalities between genders, and in society
Improve outcomes for most vulnerable populations
Long term positive impact on wellbeing – build confidence, empowerment, remove the stigma and shame associated with periods
Ensure individuals can remain engaged in education and employment and as an active participant in society every day of every month
Join the revolution
Let’s end period poverty together. Your support will help us donate beautiful, reusable, period-proof AWWA underwear to wāhine in need in Aotearoa New Zealand. It's easy to make a difference.
Buy a pair
We donate 2% of all revenue to charities in New Zealand who are committed to supporting and empowering wāhine, and who are addressing period poverty. Shop to support this action.
Donate AWWA to menssurators in need
Buy period underwear for teens & adults in need. We will donate them to our charity partners. Donate Period Underwear.
Join the period poverty conversation
Get social by following AWWA, and join your voice to the discussion!
What Kiwi women are saying about Period Poverty
"Desperate measures like using rags, socks, or rolled up toilet paper, or reusing pads after drying them out, sound unfathomable – but it happens, often. Schools have reported young girls staying home from school for the week they have their period, because their families can’t afford to provide sanitary products. Needing to take such action surely is a health issue, if not a social one, particularly for young women in more deprived areas throughout New Zealand." – Suzy Mitchell, Community Programmes Manager at St John New Zealand
"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.” - Dr Sarah Donovan, Otago University’s Department of Public Health
"Not being able to pay for sanitary items, and having to take time off crucial education and work leads to an even larger equality gap, and mental health issues. This is 100% an equality issue that needs more support.Period poverty may seem like a new challenge facing society but ask your mum or nana and they'll have a story too. But now we women are breaking down the patriarchal taboos, we are able to talk about things like period poverty and hopefully, collectively put an end to it." - Michele, in Villainesse
"I think the Government needs to look at the issue and think about how we can respond and work with communities and families. There are a number of ways this could be approached, including looking at GST on products and fully funding products." - Willow-Jean Prime
“As Kiwis we pride ourselves on leading the way in gender equality. But this is a huge, hidden barrier to that. For girls in low income families, education is the best way out of hardship. But they’re being denied that chance because they can’t afford basic necessities like sanitary items.” - Julie Chapman, CEO KidsCan
We could look at subsidising sanitary products... or we could look at a living wage so that people actually can afford sanitary products, and don't have to make those difficult choices about how they spend their income." - Dr Sue Bagshaw
“[Sanitary items are] too expensive and often babies nappies and formula came first. Have used a disposable nappy more than once at night.” - KidsCan respondent
“We had to use a pad for an entire day to make them last and not go out for fear of leakage.” - KidsCan respondent
“Single mama. Bills to pay food to buy. Can only afford to buy when they are on special.” - KidsCan respondent
“I have to sacrifice a day or two of food to be able to afford what many call ‘a female luxury.’” - KidsCan respondent
“It’s a luxury item for us, and our kids come first... I’ll just fold a length of loo paper.” - KidsCan respondent
“When my daughter got her period I made sure she got pads and I had no money left when it was my turn.” - KidsCan respondent