What are the odds that men actually know much about menstruation? Slim to none actually. Which is why not many of you know that approximately 45% women in India do not have access to sanitary napkins and have to make do with soil and ash or a piece of cloth to soak up the blood during menstruation? Before the movie, Pad Man, even came out, many people pondered over what would have driven a man to find an alternative to already existing sanitary napkins for women. While you may attribute it to the love and respect he had for his wife, he actually did it for women all around.
Pads- a need or want
What people need to understand is that sanitary pads are not to be confused with cosmetics which are optional items that some may purchase while the others skip. Sanitary napkins are an essential product that exists to promote health and hygiene and yet is ignored by many.
The cost of sanitary pads is quite high when we compare it to some of the other items making it really hard for many middle and low-income class to afford. And after almost a year of women’s rights activists having to protest and organise campaigns asking the government to cut down the GST imposed on sanitary pads, the GST council last Saturday gave their nod to scraping the tax on women hygiene products.
The step to slash the GST on sanitary pads has been welcomed by everyone all around the country and people have taken to social networking platforms to praise the government for their actions. From calling it a step done in the favour of women to many users congratulating women all over the country, some have even called it a ‘period of independence.’ Others have even called the decision a move to woo the middle and low-income class ahead of next year’s general elections.
Even though this may be seen as a victory of some sorts, many people say that the difference to the end customer might not be much since the local manufacturers who have to pay input taxes can increase their prices. This will definitely bring us back to the same problem as before, over-priced pads.
Hopefully, this encourages women in rural and urban areas to focus on their hygiene and opt for sanitary pads and tampons instead of going for the easier option made available to them. Exempting sanitary pads from GST is an initiative by the government to promote menstrual hygiene, and to help increase the number of women using pads.
The effects this step may have might seem obscure for now but times like these call for a wave of togetherness that will bind women all around. And the optimists we are, we call this a strategy to empower women one step at a time so let us let us bask in the moment for a while. Period.