Kathmandu: Menstrual Health/Hygiene Partners’ Alliance (MHMPA), an inter-sectoral and multi-stakeholder platform for coordination and exchange of ideas to promote dignified menstruation, has urged the government to bring a national program for free, biodegradable, and reusable pads to all women and girls in communities and schools.
Welcoming the government’s decision to provide free sanitary pads to girls in public schools, the alliance has urged the government to review its decision to deduct taxes on the import of pads in the Fiscal Policy 2022/23. The government has been distributing free sanitary pads to public school girls since 2019.
“Sanitary pad is a basic necessity for a woman to manage her menstruation. Its availability at affordable cost and quality is one of the most important aspects of dignified menstruation,” reads a press statement issued by Guna Raj Shrestha, national convener of the alliance.
Indicating the irrational tax provision in the federal budget 2022/23, the alliance has said: “The government has announced to decrease the import tax to 1.5% on finished sanitary pads, whereas domestic industries have been levied 8.2% import tax for raw materials and packing materials.”
This differential tax provision will surely discourage domestic manufacturing industries, according to the alliance. “Also, the quality and standards have not been mentioned for the finished pad products in the reduced tax provisions.”
The alliance has also raised concerns over the quality of sanitary pads. “The low-quality sanitary pads will impact the health of women.” The alliance further stated that plastic in sanitary pads will have a severe impact on the environment for centuries. Stating this, the alliance has urged the government to take actions with immediate effect for the larger health benefit of women and for the protection of the environment.
The government should encourage domestic production of pads by reducing the import duties on raw materials and packaging materials as equal to the finished products, according to the alliance.
Further, the alliance has urged the government to encourage the production and import of biodegradable and reusable pads meeting national standards set by the Nepal Bureau of Standards & Metrology (NBSM) by imposing zero import tax for both finished products as well as raw materials and packaging materials.
Likewise, the alliance also appreciated the government’s decision to revise the curriculum to include menstrual hygiene content in textbooks.