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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: University of Canterbury

UC students are fighting Aotearoa’s period poverty crisis by donating sanitary products to Te Puna Oranga and Aviva Families.

In the first week of fundraising, the students have collected more than 1000 packs of sanitary products, with another week of the campaign still to go.

Students Romy Gellen, Serena Cooper, Caitlin Baker, Olivia Dobbs and Charlotte Hawkins have been inspired by their Media and Social Change course project.

Course lecturer Dr Maja Zonjić says “period poverty is a fact of life for many people in Aotearoa New Zealand, and is compounded by the social stigma surrounding menstruation”.

“To see my students get inspired by their final group project to tackle this critical issue and start such an important initiative is incredibly humbling.

“I am very proud of them and I hope their actions encourage others to positively contribute to their communities.”

 As part of the project, the students have analysed a New Zealand-made short film from Stuff’s Someday Stories series called Super Special.

 “When we saw the film about period poverty right here in Aotearoa, we were upset to find it was a reality for so many young people,” Romy says. “The group project made us really passionate and drove us to actually do something to combat the issue.”

Caitlin says they have chosen Te Puna Oranga and Aviva Families because they want to support local organisations.

A 2019 study shows that “12.5 per cent of students who had had their first period missed out on menstrual items due to cost, and that 7.5 per cent had missed school because they couldn’t access menstrual products”.

In some lower socioeconomic areas, period poverty was as high as 20 per cent.