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#TamponTaxMustFall: Sign Our Petition Now!

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Many of us have access to pads and tampons that mean we can carry on as usual whether we love or hate our period. But there are thousands – if not millions – of South Africans who can’t afford these products. The cost of sanitary products is a cost that is only borne by women, often referred to as the ‘tampon tax’. Periods are involuntary and unavoidable, and they are also very expensive. COSMO wants to end the unnecessary expense – and we need your help.

This is how much your period really costs you

tampon tax, petition #tampontaxmustfall

Hold up, there’s a tax on tampons?

On sanitary products, yes. Tampons and sanitary pads are subject to the same Value Added Tax (VAT) that other ‘luxury items’ are. This year the budget speech announced that VAT went up to 15%, meaning that these so-called ‘luxury items’ became even more expensive on 1 April 2018.

The government does have basic items considered a necessity – like brown bread and milk – that aren’t taxed with VAT. These items are zero-rated – the question is, why are women taxed for sanitary ware that is a basic necessity?

In 2016 and 2017 Members of Parliament and activists like Pontsho Pilane pressed Treasury to declare sanitary products as VAT-exempt. Instead, Treasury recommended the provision of free pads to those in need, funded by National and Provincial Government. The commitment to providing free pads was reiterated by the new Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, in March this year. Yet still, women across South Africa do not have access to free sanitary products.

Last year, the Department of Women called for input on a national policy framework for sanitary dignity. According to the Department’s 2018 budget, they are leading a multi-departmental task team to develop a framework for the provision of free sanitary products to indigent girls and women. Once that’s in place, they promise to pilot the framework in one province. Their budget for this work is R4,2-million over the next three years. But we need to see this plan actioned and rolled out across South Africa – sooner rather than later.

Can Government afford to provide free sanitary products?

Although the South African budget is under pressure, there are always ways that the money could be re-prioritised. For example, in the 2016/17 financial year, there was an estimated R45-billion in irregular expenditure by government – enough to buy over 205-million menstrual cups: 11 per woman between the ages of 10 and 49 in South Africa. It’s not a matter of a lack of financial ability, it’s got to do with priorities and ensuring that budgets are properly managed.

Government provides around 750-million male condoms and 25-million female condoms for free distribution annually. Condoms are important – and we’re glad they’re being distributed for free. Condoms help women protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, both of which affect their school attendance. But you know what else affects school attendance? Not being able to access or afford sanitary products.

Donate to women in need

We’ve partnered with Sheba Feminine and Femme Projects to distribute eco-friendly pads to women who cannot afford them. Click here to donate a pack of pads to someone in need today – just R40 provides a pack for a woman in South Africa.

We are petitioning the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa to:

1) Remove VAT from sanitary ware, especially sanitary pads and tampons, classifying them as zero-rated basic necessities

Tampons and sanitary pads are subject to the same Value Added Tax (VAT) that other ‘luxury items’ are. This year the budget speech announced that VAT went up to 15%, meaning that these so-called ‘luxury items’ became even more expensive on 1 April 2018. The government does have basic items considered a necessity – like brown bread and milk – that aren’t taxed with VAT. These items are zero-rated – the question is, why are women taxed for sanitary ware that is a basic necessity?

2) Provide a clear timeline for the actioning of the Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework, including a commitment to begin rolling out free sanitary products to South African women in need, nationwide, in 2018

In 2016 and 2017 Treasury recommended the provision of free pads to those in need, funded by National and Provincial Government. The commitment to providing free pads was reiterated by the new Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, in Marchthis year. Yet still, women across South Africa do not have access to free sanitary products.

Last year, the Department of Women called for input on a national policy framework for sanitary dignity. According to the Department’s 2018 budget, they are leading a multi-departmental task team to develop a framework for the provision of free sanitary products to indigent girls and women. Once that’s in place, they promise to pilot the framework in one province. Their budget for this work is R4,2-million over the next three years. But we need to see this plan actioned and rolled out across South Africa – sooner rather than later.

It’s been a year since Government introduced the Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework, and yet it’s still unclear when their commitments will be translated into action, or whether they’ll consider alternatives to pads. We’re planning to take a petition to the Portfolio Committee on Women, chaired by Thandi Memela, to remove VAT on sanitary products and ensure they’re affordable for everyone – and to remind them that they need to action their Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework stat. We need your voice – and your signature!

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