An Auckland artist is painting a piece with her own period blood to be unveiled at an event protesting the cost of sanitary products on Tuesday.
Zoe James will unveil her work An Expensive Habit at the Menstruation Matters event at The Women's Bookshop on Ponsonby Rd.
James, 24, believed menstrual products should be more affordable as they were a necessity, not a choice.
She said she had to choose between sanitary products and food when she was a solo mother.
"It's a pretty s**t choice to have to make. Especially if you've got children in the mix, there's extra guilt involved. Are you going to buy tampons for yourself or food for everyone else?
"Condoms and oral contraceptives are subsidised, yet essential menstrual products remain highly priced, financially inaccessible to some, and an unnecessarily high cost for others."
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James wanted pads, tampons and moon cups to be subsidised.
Last Tuesday it came to light that a 10-year-old girl was told to stay home from her primary school while she had her period, a public health sociologist said. She was allowed back once she provided a sanitary bin.
The principal also suggested the girl go on the contraceptive pill to stop her menstruating while at school.
University of Otago researcher Dr Sarah Donovan said there was a definite social inequality problem highlighted by issues around age and health inequity.
Two Whangaparaoa College students have got almost 30,000 signatures on a petition to remove GST from sanitary products. They are aiming for 100,000 signatures before they take it to Parliament. The petition states that a woman will pay around $2400 in GST on sanitary products over her lifetime.
James said menstruation was still taboo, which made public discussion difficult, despite the issue affecting half the population.
This is the first painting James has ever done with her period blood. She said it doesn't smell, is covered in sealant and is very pigmented.
"You don't need much."
Those attending the event are encouraged to bring donations of sanitary products.
James hasn't decided if she will sell the painting. If she does any profits will go towards providing sanitary products to women in need.
She has also created a digital artwork to promote the event, depicting a woman "free bleeding".
"That's what you have to resort to when you can't access these necessities."
Speakers at the event will include feminist comedian Michele A'Court, Vanessa Cole from Auckland Action Against Poverty, writer Brooke Wilton, Denise Roche from the Green Party, Hannah Wood and Mackenzie Koppel from the Auckland City Mission and James.