A social enterprise start-up is teaming up with businesses to provide sanitary products to cash-strapped young girls.

Companies that sign up to Dignity - founded by Miranda Hitchings and Jacinta Gulasekharam - will pay for tampons for their staff and young girls in a buy one, give one model.

Inspired by the "buy a meal give a meal" initiative, Eat my Lunch, the pair have partnered up with Organic Initiative to sell bulk orders of pads and tampons to offices.

For every sanitary product bought by a company, another would be given to a high school.


Using the model, the business would pay a subscription with monthly orders sent varying in size and cost depending on the number of female employees.

The Wellington duo were starting with a local school as a pilot but hoped to eventually spread the scheme across the country.

They would be working closely with the school, which wished to remain anonymous, to make sure donated items were being used effectively.

Dignity was the end result of a campaign Gulasekharam ran while involved with student politics, offering all students at Victoria University of Wellington free access to pads and tampons.

"Miranda and I had both struggled all through university with access and not being able to afford sanitary items.

"I remember were walking home one day we thought: what if women didn't have to buy them," she said.

They started speaking to schools and put out a survey in workplaces, finding 75 per cent of women had found themselves stuck for sanitary items at least once a year.

"Talking to a lot of working women, it wasn't necessarily the cost that impacted them but more accessibility," Hitchings said.


"But when we talked to people in schools it really was that issue of affordability."

The duo wanted to use enterprise to tackle social issues caused by inequality.

"Businesses can be leaders to create the society we want to see and help young girls in one small way feel comfortable at school," Gulasekharam said.

"We know education is such an important part of people's lives that can take them so far."

They were negotiating with several local businesses interested in being the first to take part in the scheme.

The pair hoped to have the first order of sanitary items in Wellington offices by May or June this year, and to eventually spread the scheme throughout New Zealand.

"We want all women to have access to sanitary items."

Organic Initiative sells organic sanitary products and spokeswoman Bridgette Jackson said the company's values aligned perfectly with Dignity's, making them a natural fit as a supplier.

"It's all about doing good for New Zealand women."

The scheme follows months of debate around the accessibility of sanitary products, including the recent revelation Pharmac was considering an application to fund them.

After hearing girls were missing school because they couldn't afford sanitary products, Manurewa MP Louisa Wall asked consumers to add pads and tampons to their shopping lists last July.

Wall teamed up with Countdown, the Salvation Army and web developer Lucid to launch an online initiative allowing shoppers to donate $15 women's hygiene bundles to young women going without.

The idea of taking GST off pads and tampons was also raised by Weekend Herald columnist Lizzie Marvelly.