In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla has informed the Parliament that at present, there is no proposal to exempt sanitary napkins from Goods and Service Tax (GST)
In India, according to a National Family Health Survey, 62 per cent of women between the ages of 15 to 24 continue to use cloth as protection when they menstruate.
In order to make sanitary pads affordable for women living in rural areas, women’s organisations, NGOs and women legislatures across the country had protested against the government’s decision.
The women’s organisations had criticised the central government’s move, questioning why when condoms are tax-free sanitary pads are not. Moreover, women’s organisations had even met Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, demanding #TaxFreeSanitaryPads.
Now, in a written reply filed in the parliament, Minister of State for Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla has stated: No proposal to exempt sanitary napkins from GST. States are provided funds for Menstrual Hygiene Scheme under the programme implementation plans for decentralised procurement of sanitary pads at their own level. These are then distributed at a subsidised rate of Rupee 1 per napkin to the adolescent girls residing primarily in rural areas. Further, funds are also given for capacity building of health workers and information, education and communication to promote menstrual hygiene.
Speaking to My Medical Mantra, NCP leader Chitra Wagh, said, “Women’s organisations and NGOs had raised this very important issue with the government a number of times. But, it seems that the central government doesn’t want to pay attention to this subject. The government’s slogan is ‘Beti Bachao’. But this reveals the true mentality of the government.”
MNS leader Shalini Thackeray, said, “Affordable sanitary napkins is the need of the hour. Our demand was to include sanitary napkins in the list of essential commodities. If sanitary napkins are make available in affordable prices, then only women are going to be benefited.”