Period. End. Done.

Written By: - Date published: 12:12 pm, August 26th, 2018 - 42 comments
Categories: business, class, class war, cost of living, feminism, gender, health, International, leadership, Left, poverty, quality of life, Social issues, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Given the similarities in population between here and Scotland, it would seem that for the want of about $10 million, the government could put a massive dent in the scourge of period poverty in New Zealand. Class meets gender – what more could we ask for?!  And what with a Prime Minister and a Party keen to promote themselves as somehow progressive…

As reported in The Guardian, according to a study by Women for Independence (WFI) nearly 1 in 5 women in Scotland have experienced period poverty and  –

the most common alternative to expensive sanitary products was toilet roll, with women also reporting they used rags, old clothes, T-shirts, socks and newspapers. Twenty-two per cent of respondents reported they were not able to change their products as often as they would like, with 11% of those describing a significant health impact as a result, such as a urinary tract infection or thrush. Women described their feelings of shame and isolation, worrying about smell, feeling uncomfortable, and missing out on days of education, work and social events because they felt unable to go out.

It would seem that’s all going to be in the past. As from last Friday, North Ayrshire Council was providing sanitary products for all, for free, at libraries, community centres and other public buildings. This follows on from already providing free products through all secondary schools since last August.

Back in February it was reported that,

First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in her programme for government last September that free sanitary products would be provided in schools, colleges and universities from the autumn, while a pilot scheme offering free products to low-income households in Aberdeen will report back to Holyrood shortly.

Well, it would seem that report came back and action was taken.

Hey Girls, an East Lothian-based social enterprise company set up to tackle period poverty, will be a major provider in the initiative. The company, which launched in January this year, is supplying sanitary products directly to a number of local authorities including the City of Edinburgh council, Glasgow city council, South Lanarkshire council, West Lothian counci and Stirling council, as well as Glasgow Caledonian University.

and just to “seal the deal”

The Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who is bringing forward a member’s bill to create a statutory duty for free provision of period products, added: “This is another great step forward in the campaign against period poverty. Access to period products should be a right, regardless of your income, which is why I am moving ahead with plans for legislation to introduce a universal system of free access to period products for everyone in Scotland.

So, c’mon Jacinda!

42 comments on “Period. End. Done.”

  1. Incognito 1

    Let’s do this!

    How should this regulated? Through PHARMAC?

    • Bill 1.1

      Regulated? The products are for sale on supermarket shelves and dairies! The only change is in making them freely available in (say) vending machines in libraries and such like, as is being done in Scotland.

      The SNP has thrown £5 million at it (roughly NZ$10 million) and they operate within the constraints of strict austerity imposed from London. Now, given this government’s “fiscal responsibility” has been self imposed because of stupid adherence to a discredited economic idea….

      • Incognito 1.1.1

        O.k. Maybe I should have used “implemented”.

        I think it’s a very good idea but how it’s put into practice will be important. Who’s going to manage those vending machines? Where and how are the products sourced, and which products?

        To give supermarkets a cheque for $10 million or so without some ‘rules & expectations’ is asking for trouble and missing the target IMHO. It probably is a nice little profit maker for supermarkets currently …

        As always, the devil is in the detail.

        On a side note, libraries appear to be no longer quiet reading they once used to be: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/106291861/Police-respond-to-incidents-of-violence-abuse-and-inappropriate-behaviour-in-libraries

        • Bill 1.1.1.1

          Who manages vending machines in any given location at present? You imagine a problem with a library or a council office or a school or a community centre managing them?

          If sourcing is a problem, then why not follow the example of “Hey Girls” that was provided in the post and have government promote and support a social enterprise to provide and/or manufacture products?

          Actually, isn’t there something similar to Hey Girls already existing in NZ distributing sanitary cups?

          • Venezia 1.1.1.1.1

            Menstrual cups are expensive. There is at least one so called “social enterprise” giving one free for every one purchased. There has also been toxic shock syndrome diagnosed through using these cups.

            • Ch_Ch Chiquita 1.1.1.1.1.1

              “There has also been toxic shock syndrome diagnosed through using these cups.”
              Only if not washed and cleaned properly as instructed (boil it once a month and good wash between uses). It is also worth mentioning that using disposable products is just as dangerous if not replaced timely enough.

      • Siobhan 1.1.2

        Funny they should be distributing through libraries..dozens of libraries across Scotland have been closed in the past 12 months – and the figure has doubled in the space of a year, though closures have been happening enmasse since at least 2015. And they sure don’t have the staff numbers they used to have, so I’m not sure who will be keeping an eye on the machines.
        It would be interesting to know how well the poorest areas of Scotland are served with Libraries and Community Services.

        Living in a decile 1 area, I have to say even NZ communities are not well served with safe distribution choices.

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/15/tories-libraries-social-mobility-conservative

  2. Herodotus 2

    Yet another example of a govt “fixing up” a problem with giveaways, instead of addressing the real problem (IMO) We have here accomodation supplements , WFF etc. For me it is inadequate incomes for families being the issue, how does such actions address that ?
    If govts continual to act in such a way, it allows industry to continual to pay below what is an adequate income, as the govt will just top up payments.

    • Chris 2.1

      The answer is making the thing free for everyone. So if it’s food in schools then food in every school not just low deciles. Income distribution means a UBI etc etc.

      • corodale 2.1.1

        Yeah, If bugs me to agree with feminist views, but super good idea.
        Goes well with UBI thinking.
        Like power subsidies for elderly, if this is a fair adjustment to UBI simplicity.
        Then, if we raise the price of food, and women eat less, (due to a lower birth rate 😉
        Nah, at the price we pay for food in NZ, it should be organic.

        • Chris 2.1.1.1

          Power subsidies for the elderly would be met with nationalising the power industry and charging people the cost of producing electricity.

  3. Herodotus 3

    Yet another example of a govt “fixing up” a problem with giveaways, instead of addressing the real problem (IMO) We have here accomodation supplements,power subsidies for the elderly, WFF etc. For me it is inadequate incomes for families being the issue, how does such actions address that ?
    If govts continual to act in such a way, it allows industry to continual to pay below what is an adequate income, as the govt will just top up payments.

    • mac1 3.1

      It’s a difficulty in that it’s not clear how a government can extricate itself from the top-up payment system. It does not have the power to force employers to employ workers or to regulate rates of pay outside of the minimum rate. Perhaps this is a time for Universal Basic Income? It is clear that universal payments means that some don’t rort the system nor is there a need for inspectors and supervisors of schemes to ensure compliance. Universal schemes also mean that those well enough off not to need it still get it and as a result don’t begrudge it being paid at all as they too are recipients. It’s like universal health care. The wealthy don’t begrudge taxation for this as they, being also susceptible to ill health, get to have excellent health care, like education and Superannuation.

      These are in a sense top up payments, whereby the state provides all of most of the cost. If the state provides top up payments, then this is one form of wealth redistribution from taxpayers, and income earners therefore, according to the size of their taxable income.

      Employers who pay lower wages and therefore make more profit end up paying more taxation, in an ideal tax-evasion free world, to go towards the top-up system.

      Herodotus, do you have a way to encourage reluctant employers to pay a decent living wage to all families needing an adequate income?

      • KJT 3.1.1

        Bring back trade Unions, and the absolute right to withdraw your labour.

        • mac1 3.1.1.1

          We already have trade unions, KJT. Are you advocating compulsory unionism? We also have currently unions striking exactly over wage issues.

          • KJT 3.1.1.1.1

            Compulsory unionism, yes, especially for the traditionally lower paid, who are totally disadvantaged in negotiation with employers, such as retail and hospitality workers. With legislation, to ensure they are democratically run by members.

            The most powerful Unions, like the Medical association, the Law Society and Chartered accountants, along with the old waterfront Unions, have always been those who could limit their membership. That should not be within their power. Anyone in that industry should be in the appropriate Union.
            Farm workers, retail workers and hospitality workers are in even more need of collective power. Labour has sort of acknowledged this with the proposed, “Fair pay agreements”, but they are too gutless to take on employer exploitation head on, by the method that worked in the past. Unions!

            The “freedom of association” red herring, was bought in by the right wing, who have never been concerned about any other human rights, apart from their own “freedom” to rip off their communities. I would like the “freedom” to have nothing to do with National. But short of leaving the country…………..

            The right to strike, is extremely limited in New Zealand. Which has been commented on by the UN, and other organisations.
            The “right to withdraw capital” is unlimited, as the Collapse of Dick Smiths, Hanover finance and many building companies, and the taking of dividends, and indebting companies, for share buybacks has shown.

            Mind you, the right wing has always been extremely selective about whose, and what “human rights” they support.

            • KJT 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Decent pay, for jobs that are mostly done by women, helps with many types of poverty.

              Unions have proven to be the only really effective driver of decent rates of pay.

              Government legislated minimums, just ensures an ever increasing number on the minimum, without worker power.

    • Bill 3.2

      Well, you could look at it through the lens of inadequate income. Or then again, you could look at it through the lens of it being “a right”.

      Would you argue that condoms shouldn’t be subsidised because that subsidy doesn’t address inadequate incomes?

      In terms of health, sanitary products are arguably more of a necessity than a condom. Not having a condom, beyond maybe not fucking or whatever, doesn’t routinely result in infection, doesn’t affect what you do, or how you feel about yourself, or how you might think others are perceiving you.

      • Herodotus 3.2.1

        I understand the point you have raised, and it’s validity. Re condoms is that not family planning that also encompasses other forms of education and conception ?
        20-40 years ago this and many other needs that have arisen, were not then an issue, housing costs and incomes were more in balance, and there was less stress placed on other areas of life.
        Do we want to progress down the road that there will be other valid needs as this that will need addressing, and should the govt intervene in those cases ?
        I prefer(if possible) to address the underlying issue and not the symptoms.

        • Bill 3.2.1.1

          I prefer(if possible) to address the underlying issue and not the symptoms.

          Then address capitalism in the head or nuts, given its patriarchal nature, with the steel toe of your size ten boot.

  4. Stunned Mullet 4

    🙄

  5. Brigid 5

    Have any of you had to pay for toilet paper in public toilets? For the soap you use to wash your hands? For the paper towels you use to dry then?
    No
    Then neither should females have to pay for sanitary products which are as necessary as toilet paper, soap, paper towels.
    Sanitary products should be available free in public toilets just as all the afore mentioned are.

    • halfcrown 5.1

      Well said Brigid, Agree 200%

    • Bewildered 5.2

      Of course you pay indirectly, nothing is free, what next tooth paste I have sympathy for subsidy here but where does it end The government simply taxing the fk out of everything and redistribution is not the answer either I can’t see how infantising half the country to be reliant on the state can be good in the long term

      • Sabine 5.2.1

        Aren’t the blokes lucky that they will never have to use a tampon or a pad every month for about thirty years or more.

        Yeah, lets pamper the women by providing them with free bandages to manage their monthly bleeding.

      • KJT 5.2.2

        Where were you when farmers are infantilised into dependence on the State, by drought/flood relief? To name but one of the many forms of State assistance.
        Shouldn’t they be required to get private insurance, for something which is an entirely predictable business risk, after all? Unlike periods, which are not a choice, for half of us.

        Women should have equal access to jobs, opportunities and education.
        The cost of period products prevents that for many.
        Fairness dictates they should be as freely available as toilet paper.

    • Sabine 5.3

      this.

      so much this

      we can have condom vending machines in bathrooms, we can have tampon dispensing machines in bathrooms. And pads.

      Effectively it is not only an income issue, it is also a discrimination issue as clearly only one gender needs these things.

    • KJT 5.4

      Yes. And in schools.

  6. Rosemary McDonald 6

    Feeling a rush of Nationalist pride at the moment…even more so since I hail from East Lothian.

    Great post Bill.

    And seriously, while the debate rages over cause of period poverty, the women still bleed.

  7. Goodshepherd 7

    I have known women and girls whose period products were doled out to them or withdrawn as a way of controlling, rewarding or punishing them.

    While I accept other ways to control women would be found, I believe the only way to guarantee access to all menstruating women and girls is to make them free and freely available in all public rest rooms and in schools.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 7.1

      I went to boarding school and their was one in our class who’s father refused to buy her any sanitary products. It appeared to be an ongoing attempt to humiliate his daughter for being female.

      • Roy cartland 7.1.1

        I remember this debate a couple or more decades ago. When the yobbos of the student common room demanded to know why they should be free, my girlfriend at the time simply said, looking perplexed: because men *need* women to have periods. Like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Which it clearly is.

  8. Roy cartland 8

    First things first obviously, make them free and available. Once that’s done, we can look at taxing the un-needy to contribute, and even setting up production in nz so we aren’t just lining the pockets of glaxo-pfizer-johnson.

  9. AsleepWhileWalking 9

    Countdown reduced the price of the store branded pads and tampons to do their best at addressing this problem. Its not free but its pretty good.

    Regular tampons, 20 pack is $3
    Select Protect, 16 pads + wings $3.50 (not the cheapest as Home brand super 18 for $2 but who feels comfortable with those nappy like ones? I’d rather toilet paper)

    • AsleepWhileWalking 9.1

      And…Countdown! That’s the third time this year I’ve commented about them (sensory reduced hour once a week for autistic, and plastic bag phase out)

    • AsleepWhileWalking 9.2

      Another issue is the growing number who can’t even afford $5 – $10 give or take once a month.

  10. Jum 10

    Roy cartland 7.1.1
    26 August 2018 at 4:47 pm
    ‘ men *need* women to have periods.’
    excellent girlfriend comment.

    and ‘comments about price’.

    I couldn’t help wondering if women did not have periods it would solve all the issues of this planet…

    Half the population of this country are being discriminated against by the other half, because governments (for so long majority male) have done nothing in the past to make these products free. Now we have more women in Parliament and it’s not a banned subject any more, why do women have to wait so long. Get on to it Labour/NZ First/Greens. Clock is ticking.

    Those who can afford it, pay for it, if they want; those who need help to access them should get them free from any chemist, public toilet, school, office block, etc., without any difficulty over poor-shaming.

    Perhaps when women get equal pay it will have to be increased by $10 to $30 bucks per month to really be equal.

    The elephant though is the criminally low wages and income and all attempts to raise to living wages/income is met with national/act/misogynistic outcries.

    That is the real crime and the reason these healthy period products are beyond some purses. Any bad health outcomes caused by bad substitutes are the fault of any business/government that refuses to end this poverty of health outcome – increased hospital costs, bad educational outcomes, bad employment outcomes…

  11. Koreropono 11

    Great post Bill! But the cost of sanitary products is just one part of the overall problem that women experience during menstruation. Pain management is often problematic for women who can’t afford to fork out money for over the counter pain relief. Some women and girls need to take unpaid time off work or school and then are forced to explain their reasons to ignorant teachers and bosses.

    There needs to be a huge societal shift in thinking around periods and the far reaching impact that these have.

    Am I wrong to assume that many of those blasting the idea that women should have ‘free’ period products are men?

    Men who will never know what it’s like to:

    Stay at home because one doesn’t have the appropriate products to manage blood flow.

    Use cheap and nasty products that chaffe in areas that shouldn’t be chaffed.

    Using toilet paper or other not fit for purpose item that may or may not stay in place.

    Made to feel shame because they are menstruating and forced to find their own means of managing the problem because of the shame.

    Living in a society where some men and women still maintain the myth that menstruation is something dirty and should be hidden and not spoken about lest it offends some patriarchal outdated mode of thinking .

    Suffering significant social and emotional isolation because one bleeds.

    Suffering serious health consequences and avoiding medical attention because people impose their backward views about menstruation onto often young and frightened girls.

    Women who often have to make the choice between feeding their children or purchasing suitable period products.

    Men don’t have to make these choices but women do.

    While I agree that the problem is predominately period poverty, it is also the stigma and shame imposed on girls and women that forces them to hide their periods or seek other means to manage them. That is why having vending machines and/or free products available would provide those more vulnerable women some freedom and choices outside of their home enviornments.

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