Press Statement of Ms Sushmita Dev, MP on Tax Exemption on Sanitary Napkins.
As India makes history by implementing GST - women empowerment has been completely ignored. The BJP Government despite repeated demands has failed to make GST 'Gender Sensitive'. The Government is insensitive to the demand of half of India's population by not exempting the Tax on Sanitary Napkins.
GST could have been instrumental in making an important intervention by making sanitary napkins tax free or minimally taxed. Neither happened despite my petition being supported by more than 3 Lakh men and women. In my meeting with Union Ministers, Shri J P Nadda, Smt. Maneka Gandhi and Shri Arun Jaitley no one seemed to disagree that menstruation is still a stigma.
In India only 12% women use napkins and poor menstrual hygiene is a cause of serious health issues and death for women especially in Rural India.
Increasing drop outs of girls from schools primarily happens because of menstruation as it works as an obstacle to education of girls.
A government that runs a campaign ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ actually missed the point. While child Sex ratio and high percentage of women staying out of the education system was targeted under this slogan the complete non application of mind is apparent.
Affordability and accessibility are two primary reasons for such dismal figures of women using hygienic napkins. Equality of opportunity cannot be a reality unless we equip our girls better to access these opportunities. Poor menstrual hygiene impacts the women's Right to life.
Menstruation is an involuntary physical process which is outside the control of women and use of napkins is a necessity and yet the GST council did not treat it at par with other essential commodities. Our constitution permits special laws for women and children and yet the demand of half the population of India of making Sanitary affordable and Tax-free was rejected by the BJP Government.