Women are being taxed 12 months a year, for about 39 years on a process they have no control over. How is that fair?
This is the question that Sushmita Dev, Congress MP, asks in a Change.org petition calling for 100% tax exemption for the production and distribution of environment- and health-friendly sanitary pads. The petition went live online in March in order to commemorate the International Women’s Day and is addressed to Arun Jaitley, who is the current finance minister of India.
In India, sanitary napkins are placed under “luxury products” and as a result are taxed 14.5 percent on the products that are sold. This makes it difficult for women who fall under Below Poverty Line to even be able to afford it. According to a study published in the International Research Journal of Social Sciences, out of 355 million women in India who menstruate, only 12% even have access and the monetary freedom to be able to buy sanitary napkins.
Millions are forced to resort to unhygienic methods every month, such as using rags or even sand in some cases.
Image for representation. Photo source: Wikimedia
The petition states that making sanitary napkins affordable will even help young women stay in school. It notes, “It is bound to have an impact on attendance of girls in schools, adding impetus to greater women participation in our work force which is just a meager 21.9%. Affordability, ease of availability and accessibility needs to be at the forefront of this battle.”
Also keeping in mind environmental factors, the petitions calls for tax exemptions on environmental friendly pads only. Currently it has close to 7,000 signatures. Once it reaches the 7,500 benchmark, it will be sent to the government for consideration.
To sign the petition, click here