Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced on Tuesday in Parliament during his Medium Term Budget Policy Speech that there will no longer be a VAT increment on sanitary pads. This announcement has been applauded by many South Africans as the cost of personal care products has proven a heavy burden on many women, particularly those who are poor and have no access to safe alternatives such as tampons, moon cups etc.
As of April 2019, consumers will no longer feel the pinch that has been synonymous with purchasing sanitary products. Not only will this move have a positive impact on low-income households, but it will ensure that girls will be able to participate in school without having their education impacted on account of their cycle.
Mboweni announces zero rating of sanitary pads and free provision of sanitary towels to poor schools.
This comes seven years after then president Jacob Zuma announced provision of free sanitary towels to poor women in February 2011.
— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) October 24, 2018
Treasury Announces That Sanitary Products Are Officially VAT Exempt
Many girls miss school every month due to lack of sanitary products. In some cases, girls are faced with the decision between buying a pack of maize meal for their family or purchasing sanitary products and more often than not, they choose to forego the pads, which are an essential product for womxn.
Without the access to sanitary products, girls are invariably forced to look at other alternatives to dealing with their monthly such as using newspaper, cloths or sandbags in some instances, and these alternatives often have serious health ramifications.
In May 2018, Cosmopolitan created a petition to send to parliament calling for #TamponTaxMustFall. We partnered with Sheba Feminine and Femme Projects to distribute eco-friendly pads to women who cannot afford them. The petition received over 58 000 signatures of support and we couldn’t be happier. The petition was handed over to parliament and COSMO would like to applaud the work of all those who signed in making your voice heard.
This move has been a long time coming and it is great news indeed as there have been a considerable amount of civil society bodies who have often decried the exorbitant costs associated with sanitary pads, and so we can only hope that this serves as assurance that Mboweni and the rest of government are starting to come to the table when it comes to prioritising women and children issues and ensuring that policy implementation supports their words.
The cost of menstruation has been an expensive one for a long time and it has led to the dignity of girls being stripped away. The fact that VAT will no longer be an impediment to access means that many girls will not suffer the indignity of having to find harmful alternatives or take the decision to resort to absenteeism due to this conundrum.
1. Sanitary pads to be VAT-free as of 1 April 2019 #MTBPS2018
Applause all around ✔
It’s a revenue lost of 1 bill but gives dignity to the poorer households of SA.
— Aus’ Bae Nyana (@Ke_Kekeletso) October 24, 2018
Thank you for your voice.
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