Taking action on period poverty

Haven’t heard of period poverty? Just like a lot of discussions surrounding menstruation, it’s a topic that tends to get swept under the carpet. Period poverty is what leads hundreds of girls to miss several days at school every month, as their family can not afford to buy sanitary products. This can affect their learning and limit their educational opportunities. It is also what drives many girls and women to use unhygienic or dangerous substitute items such as rags and newspaper.

Pass on your period

A Kiwi business is challenging pregnant mums to donate their new, unopened packs of sanitary pads and tampons to help Kiwi schoolgirls who are missing out on their education because of period poverty.

Franny McInnes, the Director of Cambridge-based online maternity store Breastmates, says, “I was speaking to a friend who is a teacher, and I was shocked to learn that a huge number of Kiwi girls miss school on days when they have their period, simply because they don’t have sanitary supplies. I hadn’t realised this was an issue in New Zealand, and I never thought of sanitary products as a luxury item.”

Franny says that if every pregnant mum in New Zealand passes on the menstruation supplies she won’t be using during pregnancy, it would make a significant difference to the lives of Kiwi students who can’t afford to purchase them.

Fittingly, donations are being taken from International Women’s Day (8th March) until the end of the month and will be distributed to organisations and charities already involved in getting supplies to those in need.

Making a difference

“There were 59,610 births in New Zealand in 2017,” says Franny. “If we have a similar number of births in 2018, that works out to over half a million packs of sanitary products women aren’t using during the nine months of pregnancy. Donating them to Kiwi girls in need is a small gesture that will have a big impact – not only will our girls have access to the supplies they need, it will also enable them to attend school during their periods with dignity and confidence.”


“Apart from designing maternity clothing and running my ecommerce site, I’m very happy to put my time and my staff into this campaign. And it helps that I’ve got my warehouse and distribution channels, which will make it easier than if I was trying to do this on my own.

“I also encourage people to donate money to charities that distribute sanitary products to schoolgirls, such as The Foodbank Project through The Salvation Army, and SPINZs (Sanitary Products in New Zealand Schools).”

Franny is also hopeful that our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, will donate the sanitary products she hasn’t used during her own pregnancy to the project.

How you can get involved

Breastmates are collecting new, unused, unopened packs of sanitary pads and tampons from 8th to 31st March. These will be passed on to charities to distribute to young women in need. Products can be posted to:

Pass On Your Period
c/- Breastmates
PO Box 830
Cambridge 3450

You don’t have to be pregnant to donate.

Alternatively, you can donate to any of the following organisations around New Zealand who are working to collect and distribute sanitary supplies to young women in need, either through donation or a Buy One Give One system:

* SPINZs (Sanitary Products in New Zealand Schools)

* The Salvation Army Foodbank Project (Women’s hygiene bundle)

* Go With The Flow (Wellington)

* Feel Good Period (Auckland)

* KidsCan (Health for Kids)

* Shine (Auckland)

* MyCup (Donate a cup)

* Lumii (Donate a cup – Auckland)

* Oi (Buy one give one)

* Dignity (Buy one give one for businesses)

* United Sustainable Sisters (Auckland)

Read more on Kidspot:


  1. SarahBlair 31/03/2018 at 7:45 pm

    This is a great initiative, it’s terrible that girls are missing out on school because of their periods! It’s a sad situation when people are having trouble affording basic necessities for their children’s well being!

  2. kymmage 30/03/2018 at 11:59 pm

    This is such a good cause and one close to my heart too. I knew that periods often stopped girls in third world countries from going to school. You imagine that the lack of fresh, clean water, and washing facilities and things hold many girls back from getting a good education and making their rightful mark as 50% of the population. However, to see it happening right here in New Zealand as well is shocking. Every girl should have access to items for their periods, so they can get that education! I don’t believe there is a simple fix, because your re-usable items need a certain kind of washing which may not be as accessible for those girls. Disposables need to be replenished. Certainly making them cheaper would help – they shouldn’t be deemed a luxury item. Good on Fran and all the other groups involved in this awesome cause.

  3. Kjgee 16/03/2018 at 9:29 am

    It is incredibly sad that girls here in NZ miss out on schooling because of their period. I suffer from long and heavy periods and have done since I first started, but we were always able to afford sanitary items thankfully. I now use reusable items and have and will continue to; donate new cups and cloth pads. Great for the environment and on the pocket.

  4. Mands1980 13/03/2018 at 8:54 pm

    This is such a great idea but also sad that some are missing out on schooling because they don’t have sanitary products. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to use rags or newspaper with your period I think it would be horrible. I hope more people can help them out.

  5. Bevik1971 08/03/2018 at 3:40 pm

    That’s awesome 🙂 But it is terrible that some girls who get their periods can’t even attend school as they can’t afford sanitary products, boo on the Government for that – sanitary items should be free or at least heavily subsidised. I am 46 and still have regular, heavy periods every month, (tmi sorry) I spend quite a bit on sanitary items and us women don’t really have a choice we have to get them!!!

  6. MuddledUpMolly 08/03/2018 at 2:17 pm

    I think that it is so sad that in this day and age, people are still struggling to the point where they can’t even afford the basics. I believe that the government needs to stop taxing sanitary products (at the very minimum). Good on these awesome organisations 🙂

  7. Misskay80 08/03/2018 at 2:00 pm

    It’s so hard to imagine this happens here in NZ. Big thumbs up to Franny from Breastmates (love her site and have brought many things off her). Will have to start putting pads/tampons in the local food/house hold goods box at the local supermarket. Quite sad thinking that their are kids missing out on schooling because of something so simple.

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