According to studies in the UK, there were approximately 130,000 girls in 2017 who were unable to attend their classes because they could not afford sanitary pads during their monthly cycle.
Recently, the government of Tanzania re-implemented the sanitary pad and tampon tax during the report of their budget allotment for the year. According to the country’s Finance Minister, abolishing the pad and tampon tax in 2018 was “counter-productive as retailers have not lowered their prices.”
Activists in Tanzania have been vocal about this re-implementation and how it poses difficulty for women and girls.
Necessity, not luxury
Period hygiene products such as sanitary pads and tampons are a necessity and not a luxury. The existing stigma that surrounds menstruation globally is also one contributing factor as to why there is accessibility issues about period hygiene products.
Some girls resort to using tissues, rags, wearing double underwear or re-using tampons or pads because of their lack of supply.
Health and education in this sense are jointly affected. Girls being unable to practice the proper hygiene during their period may affect their health and as a consequence, this will hinder them from receiving quality education.
This is also prevalent in the Philippines and as a female myself, I can attest to the stigma that surrounds menstruation. It is not tackled enough for people to fully understand the importance of access to period hygiene products.
In cases where we get our periods on an unexpected date and forget to bring a spare pad, who can we count on to provide us the pad? We’d be lucky if a friend was nearby and could secure us a pad but what if we don’t?
Public restrooms do have vending machines for sanitary napkins however, it is not reliable all the time. It could either “eat” your Php 5 coin or not accept your coin at all because it is the new silver Php 5 coin.
Looking at this in the lens of those in rural, remote areas, there are a lot less options. If you live in remote areas in the province, you would need to journey far to the “nearest” store that could possibly sell period hygiene products.
The government should really look into this and make period hygiene products more accessible to women. This may be the first step into diminishing the stigma that continues to surround periods in the country.