As of this month, sanitary pads and panty liners are (finally) zero VAT in South Africa. This means that we can now buy them at 15% less than what we’re used to! VAT is now one less thing to get you down when you’re PMSing, but it also means so much more than that…
Women, women’s rights groups, organisations, brands and COSMOPOLITAN have spoken up with the #TamponTaxMustFall campaign last year and now we have results. Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, announced the decision in parliament last year in his mid-term budget speech. It’s now come into effect. Although, ideally, these products should be free (we don’t choose to bleed!), this is a step in the right direction.
It’s a Win for Education
This is a huge win for all people with uteruses, especially in lower-income households. There are many young girls who are not able to go to school when on their period, because pads are too costly – and also inaccessible in certain areas. Many girls in South Africa miss up to a quarter of their school year, with 7 million girls missing school every month because of the lack of access to these products in South Africa, News24 reports. Dropping the VAT doesn’t fix the problem of accessibility, but it is a start.
It’s a Win for the Normalisation of Periods
This decision affirms that sanitary products are a basic need. Therefore, sanitary products (and periods) should be normalised. Periods have been stigmatised for centuries, as something women should hide or be embarrassed about. We’ve all seen those ads that use blue liquid as a symbol of period blood (LOL) because period blood is still that taboo. Wild.
It’s a Win for Health
As Zimkhitha Mathunjwa reported for Cosmopolitan:
“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.”
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