What?! No More VAT On Sanitary Pads And Liners In South Africa
The 1st of April saw the end to VAT on sanitary pads and liners in South Africa. And no, it’s not an April Fools’ joke – this is for real. It’s also a big deal and a win for all women. Here’s why…
Why will zero tax make a difference?
For many of us, a period is just annoying and a bit uncomfortable – but a good excuse to eat chocolate. The pads and liners we need to buy also more of a nuisance than anything else. But for a lot of girls and women in South Africa, getting your period can be life-changing. And without access to sanitary pads, the consequences can be devastating.
Did you know that the average female spends around R600 a year on sanitary towels? That’s a lot of money whatever way you look at it – but for some South Africans, it’s a sum that simply can’t be set aside from their annual income. What do you choose: sanitary pads or food? The answer to that is the reason so many girls skip school on a monthly basis. Sanitary pads are just not viable, and this means missing out on vital classes where the possibility of failure is a real fear.
And here’s a shocker: Stellenbosch University’s Law Clinic found that a whopping 30 percent of girls don’t attend school when they’re menstruating. Because they can’t afford sanitary pads. Some girls are even forced to turn to unhygienic options, like rags or notebook paper, risking their own health.
We should be able to talk about it. Period.
So it’s the year 2019, right? It should be okay to talk about your period anywhere, any time, any place. It shouldn’t be kept secret. It happens; it’s part of life. I personally have been told to put the pads I’d bought in a bag because it was making the guy I was with uncomfortable. Really?
For many girls in South Africa, it’s this very entrenched sense of shame attached to their period that’s forcing them to stay home from school. And it’s not just girls – there are women in this position too. Periods need to be normalised so that they can be part of the conversation – and we need to keep talking.
Zero Tax is a big step forward. Unfortunately, the reality is that cheaper pads still won’t help all girls and women in the country. But for now, let’s celebrate this victory. And continue to fight until every single female can access sanitary pads and live without shame. Because who runs the world?