Today, the Prime Minister announced proudly that she is rolling out pads and tampons to all schools to deal with period poverty.
How is it that we have kids going to school without food and our priority is tampons?
Let's look at the numbers to see if period poverty is actually a bigger problem than food poverty.
We’re told 90,000 girls don’t go to school every year because they can't access period products. There are around 760,000 school kids. If we say half of them are girls, that's 380,000. 90,000 girls is a quarter of them.
Do we really believe that one in four girls in this country is missing school because they can't afford products? That’s nonsense.
Then there's the price. You can go to The Warehouse website and buy ten pads for $1. If we accept that families can't afford to spend a dollar - and I do accept that - then we must accept period poverty is not the biggest problem that family has. The chances are that family can also not afford to put food on the table.
Which brings us to the actual poverty in this country. The Salvation Army put out a report yesterday warning child poverty appears to getting worse. They handed out more than 113,000 food parcels across the country - nearly twice the number handed out in 2019.
KidsCan feeds 40,000 kids every day. That’s up from 30,000. That’s not based on a spurious survey, that’s the number. That’s how much food they're handing out.
Jacinda Ardern is the child poverty minister. She said she was going to turn the numbers around, but child poverty is worse under her government.
So don’t be distracted by the handing out of period products. That is not a real solution. It does not fix the bigger problem, which is that there are kids in New Zealand who have no food.
What do you think is more important to a hungry girl? A sandwich or a tampon?
This government’s priorities leave a lot to be desired.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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