If the doom and gloom occupying most headlines around the world was beginning to get you down, here’s something to cheer you up, ladies. The provisions announced under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on May 18 declared that some of the most important products in a woman’s everyday life, like sindoor, bindi and bangles, are now exempt of taxes. Tax on useless and luxury items, like sanitary napkins, still stands at 12%.
12% of 355 million Indian women use sanitary napkins, with each woman going through an average of 11,000-17,000 pads in her lifetime. Aside from the lack of accessibility, research has found that a majority of the remaining 88% do not use sanitary napkins due to financial constraints. Clearly, these statistics were not made available to the good people on the GST council, or we may have had to face the horrifying alternate explanation: that the government thinks that female menstrual health is an urban myth.
Needless to say, this decision has not been received positively.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, has announced that the state government will be opposing the tax on sanitary napkins in the GST council meeting on June 3. The chairperson for Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, imploring him to remove the tax on sanitary napkins.
Congress MP Sushmita Dev has started a petition on change.org, and also took her campaign to Jaitley last week.
— Sushmita Dev (@sushmitadevmp) May 18, 2017
Mumbai-based NGO SheSays launched a campaign last month, called #LahuKaLagaan, inviting people to share messages on social media, directly asking Jaitley to get rid of the sanitary napkin tax.