Rwanda and South Africa have become the only two African countries to scrap all taxes on sanitary pads in their countries.
There has been a raging debate on whether to make sanitary pads free for access to all or to remove tax on what is such a necessity for women and young girls across the continent.
Because most of the countries in Africa are what can be described as low income countries, some of the women are not able to afford or access sanitary pads.
There have been groups that have advocated that the sanitary pads are availed to all for free or at the very least, they are part of the commodities that are tax exempted so that they are affordable to all women.
Currently in Africa, two countries have agreed to make sanitary pads tax free to allow for their citizens to be able to access them at a very affordable price.
South Africa and Rwanda are the two nations that have accepted to make sanitary pads tax free. South Africa made this move over a year ago and Rwanda was just this week.
Rwanda removing tax on sanitary pads will make accessibility easier for women.
According to Africa News The Rwanda Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion tweeted the new development: “Moving to the right direction, from now onwards, the Government of Rwanda has added Sanitary Pads to a list of goods that are VAT exempted in a bid to ease their affordability.”
Reports indicate that till now, there had been an 18% value added tax, VAT, on the pads.
A pack of ten pads currently goes for around 1,000 Rwandan Francs (about $1).
Consumers expect to pay much lower amounts for pads as soon as the directive begins to be implemented.
Most activists have held that the unavailability of pads stemming from their cost continued to affect especially school going girls across Africa. There has been a sustained push for governments to scrap the taxes.
“For many girls and women, especially in rural areas, the cost of the pads is too high. Many still rely to reusable cloth pads,” a women’s activist Saidath Murorunkwere is quoted to have said.
So many school going girls in the low developing countries have had to drop out of school because of not having sanitary pads and fearing to be laughed at by boys.
Different countries including Rwanda have been looking on how to make sanitary pads affordable to all
In Uganda, researchers from Oxford University found absenteeism from school was 17 percent higher among girls who had no access to sanitary towels or information about puberty.
Zambia and Kenya are the two countries in Africa that have made policies to ensure that they provide free sanitary pads to school going girls as of 2017.
In Kenya, the policy was estimated at a cost of 500 million shillings ($4.8 million) yearly. It was an expansion on a 2011 programme giving pads to girls from poor families.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!