Period poverty campaigners are positive about a $2.2 million funding allocation found in this year's Budget to tackle period poverty in schools.
While there was no announcement in the May 14 Budget, campaigners were pleased to see the amount set down for one year, though there are no further details around how the money will be spent or how it will reach those in need.
The funding boost comes as KidsCan says more families are being forced to choose between buying sanitary items or enough food due to the effects of Covid-19.
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Tukau Community Fund co-founder Season-Mary Downs – who runs a partnership with My Cup NZ to distribute menstrual cups to women and girls in the Far North - said the funding was a "good start".
"Finally, the issue is getting on the radar nationally," she said. "The fact it's a part of the national conversation is really good."
Downs said the Government needed to support existing initiatives, and work on bringing period management into the curriculum and health services for an "appropriate balance".
"It'll be interesting to see how they roll it out," she said.
"I hope they target high-need areas first. They need to get into the schools and the community. The conversation also needs to cover period management and awareness."
Period poverty is a big issue in some Northland communities , causing students to skip school and use socks, newspaper, toilet paper and rags because they can't afford to buy sanitary items.
Period products are costly; it can be up to $20 to $30 per month per woman, with an overall spend of $15,000 over her lifetime.
Many Northland schools turn to KidsCan, which has been providing sanitary items to decile 1-4 schools since 2013.
This year the charity expects to distribute 120,000 boxes of pads, tampons and liners - a four-fold increase from 2019.
KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman welcomed the funding but would like to see it extended beyond one year.
She is also unsure how it will be spent, as education around menstruation is also important, she said.
"This extra funding to tackle period poverty is desperately needed.
"The $2.2 million investment would mean KidsCan could reach all students that are likely to experience period poverty in New Zealand with sanitary items.
"But we know from our research with young people living in hardship that it's not enough to provide products only - they must come hand-in-hand with education."
Otago University public health researcher Dr Sarah Donovan said she was surprised the Government didn't announce the funding, and that her colleague found the amount in the Treasury document "incidentally".
The funding was a positive start, she said, though it depended on further detail.
Donovan agreed the money needs to be spent on education, not just sanitary products.
"If it's just for one year it might be a reasonable amount, but there's no figure for subsequent years," Dr Donovan said.
"We would need further detail. Are they planning to work with those of us that did the background lobbying to plan how they will implement it?
"I'm hoping they will ask the collective of all of us that have been involved, otherwise it will be hit and miss."