From left: D. Marks, R. Richardson-Romey, E Baptiste-Boasman, Minister Ottley, Minister Samuel, E. Hanson-Flanders and E. Jacobs.
HOPE ESTATE--Two school boards were provided with feminine hygiene products for distribution within their respective schools on Friday, April 14.
Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley was accompanied by Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel, Coordinator of Teen Times Rochelayne Richardson-Romey, staff of the Community Development Family and Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA) Elba Hanson-Flanders and Elencia Baptiste-Boasman for the handover of these products. This was announced in a press release on Monday.
The handing over marked the commencement of a distribution process of feminine hygiene products to the various subsidised and public schools. At the handing over, representatives of the Roman Catholic School Board, School Manager Edmaira Jacobs and the Department of Public Education Department Head Daison Marks, received the products on behalf of their respective organisations.
According to the release, each school board is responsible for ensuring that all schools under their charge, receive the necessary products. This initiative came about due to the concerns raised by Teen Times on the issue of period poverty, which was introduced in Parliament earlier this year drawing attention to the importance of a Period Products Legislation and the stigma associated with period poverty. Period poverty is defined as the struggle or inability to access menstrual products due to financial constraints.
In response to this concern, the Ministry of VSA through Ottley sought to address the matter by carrying out an investigation on the reality of Period Poverty in St. Maarten schools. A two-prong approach was employed to this end. First was the initial investigation throughout the month of March in collaboration with the Ministry of ECYS. And secondly, while Ottley awaited the outcome of said investigation, he arranged for the distribution of feminine hygiene products to all institutions through his network.
The Department of CDFHA is responsible for coordinating the distribution of feminine hygiene products. Distribution will continue at the Gaston Boasman Community Help Desk in Hope Estate throughout this week. School Boards were notified and are encouraged to make the necessary arrangements to have the products collected.
Ottley thanks all those who have contributed in one way or another to ensure that girls are not left wanting for products when that very sensitive but important time of the month comes around. The minister said he will continue to work assiduously to ensure a permanent and plausible solution is realised.