World Menstruation Hygiene Day will be observed on Sunday, May 28. In India menstruation hygiene remains one of the most important yet neglected health concerns. This year the day could not be more significant in Indian context because recently 12 per cent tax Good and Service Tax (GST) has been levied on the sanitary napkins by central government. It has sparked widespread outrage through various sections of the societies.
Social workers, activists and politicians have slammed this decision and have openly demanded the exemption of sanitary napkins in GST. Many prominent personalities have written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi to roll back this decision.
On the eve of World Menstruation Hygiene Day, My Medical Mantra spoke to prominent women in their fields, to understand their views on this burning topic. They have candidly expressed their opinions.
I feel that the sanitary napkins should be under minimum tax rates. But we have to take one more point into account that their disposal is a big issue. We need to pay attention to it. When we talk about making sanitary napkins tax free we have to consider its penetration level amongst masses. The local level producers of sanitary napkins should be helped and promoted.
Swati Sathe (D.I.G Prisons, Western Region, Govt. of Maharashtra)
We have to talk openly about menstrual hygiene to break taboos surrounding it. This topic should be included in the school syllabus. We need to be more sensitive about this issue. We need to understand that sanitary napkins are not luxury items. This is the essential need of women.
Priyanka Chaturvedi (National Spokesperson, Indian National Congress)
It is extremely unfortunate that the central government has put sanitary napkin under taxation. We have done a signature campaign against it. The government talks about woman empowerment but on the other hand they have taxed sanitary pads. Instead of making pads more accessible and affordable to women the government has taken steps to make it more expensive.
Priyanka Arora (Qualified Commercial Pilot)
Basic hygiene is a not just a fundamental right of a citizen, man or woman, but also something that should be propagated and free. Sanitary napkins are something that every woman needs, every month. It’s a necessity not a luxury. Taxing it under GST is huge step back in women empowerment.
Trupti Desai (Social Activist, Founder Bhumata Brigade)
We have to make people aware to accept menstruation is a natural process. Even in 21st century women have to face discrimination because of menstruation. Now, government has charged 12 per cent GST on sanitary napkins. I condemn this decision. Women in remote parts of the country just have started using sanitary pads. Now it will become more difficult for them.