The impactful #LahuKaLagaan hashtag that surfaced on social media a little over a month ago started a conversation that had been a long time coming—the government’s unfair levy of taxes on sanitary napkins. As various campaigns and videos—like a petition by SheSays and Congress MP Sushmita Dev, and a video montage by various stand-up comedians and journalists—sprung up on social media urging Finance Minister Arun Jaitely to make the basic feminine hygiene product tax-free, it seems like someone up there did take notice, after all. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has announced that the Kerala government will distribute sanitary napkins to all school-going girls in the state through distribution drives in their schools.
Through a Facebook post, the CM announced an initiative titled ‘She Pad’, with a budget of Rs 30 crore, over a period of five years. While more details are awaited on the novel initiative, here is a translation of the post that originally appeared in Malayalam:
“Every woman has a right to menstrual hygiene. The Kerala government will be implementing the ‘She Pad’ scheme to distribute healthy and clean sanitary pads to all school students across the state.
An eco-friendly disposal system and distilleries for used pads will be set up as well.
The project is being implemented with the support of local self-government institutions under the leadership of the State Women Development Corporation.”
Here is the original post:
Taxes levied on sanitary napkins go up to 14.5 percent in certain states. According to a study published in the International Research Journal of Social Sciences, over 88 percent of the women in our country cannot afford these products, and thus, resort to traditional methods like cloth, newspapers, and dried leaves, which further lead to health hazards like cervical cancer and urinary tract infections.