Charities welcome major supermarket's decision to help tackle 'period poverty'

Kaitlin Ruddock
Source: 1News

Charities are welcoming a major supermarket's decision to reduce the cost of sanitary products to help fight what's been dubbed "period poverty".

But they're warning more needs to be done, as some young women go to extreme lengths to avoid paying for tampons.

"What we do know now is we have a big problem," says Labour MP Louisa Wall.

Today front line social services gathered in Wellington to discuss the issue, concerned more young women are resorting to desperate measures when they get their period.

"We know that some of our young girls are getting into a lot of trouble with this period poverty, we've heard stories of girls shoplifting," The Salvation Army's Social Services National Secretary Major Pam Waugh told 1 NEWS.

"With poverty, the younger it starts in your life, the longer it takes to get out of it so we want to see that that doesn't happen for the young girls around this situation," Ms Waugh said.

Supermarkets are extending a hand, with Countdown reducing the cost of its own branded tampons and pads today.

"Hopefully we're going to save women about $750,000 a year," says Corporate Affairs General Manager Kiri Hannifin.

"We just came to the conclusion as a business that because we're large, we're across all of New Zealand, we could do something that really made a difference," she says.

Foodstuffs, which owns Pak'nSave and New World, says it already offers low prices on its products to customers.

The government drug funding agency Pharmac previously declined to pay for products but says it's open to new applications. A tax working group is still considering submissions its received to remove GST from sanitary items.

For now, charities are hoping newly reduced prices and much-needed donations will make up the difference.