Stop Value Added Tax (VAT) on women's menstrual health in Tanzania

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Sarah Sullivan
Sarah Sullivan signed this petition

Honorable Speaker,

Menstruation is a natural and real process that about 800 million women between 15 and 49 experience on any given day (Water Aid 2013:17). It’s a sexual and reproductive health issue that needs a particular attention for it's management.

Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights Africa (WGNRR Africa) has commended the 2018 decision of the Government of Tanzania to effect an exemption of Value Added Tax (VAT) on sanitary pads as a progressive measure to increase women’s access to affordable sanitary towels and a bold step toward progressive realization of sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls in Tanzania.

Today we are concerned with the rollback that the government is attempting to undertake by reconsidering its decision to scrap VAT on sanitary pads as put by the Finance and Planning deputy Minister during the “questions and answers” session at the parliament on April 23rd 2019 in Dodoma. 

Studies in Tanzania show that , many women and young girls rely on old, unsanitary cloth, dirt, corn husks and cobs, and other natural materials as protection during menstruation because disposable sanitary pads are not affordable and accessed easily at rural areas; and the need of free pads is still high[1]. We strongly believe that adding VAT to sanitary pads will only increase sanitary pad prices and make its access difficult for poor and marginalized groups of women and girls who form the majority of the Tanzania population; and this will have a negative impact of women and girls health outcome, education, livelihood and well-being.

We  strongly urge your August assembly to:

1.     Stop the government’s intention of reconsidering its decision to scrap VAT on sanitary pads, and urge them to rather focus on measures to regulate the prices because adding VAT will not decrease but rather it will increase the price of this product only needed by women.

2.     Urge the government to put into place mechanisms to improve the existing distribution channels for this essential reproductive health services to be accessible for all women and girls without discrimination. 

Thank you,

Dorice Tesha- Advocacy and Communications Officer WGNRR Africa.

[1] TAWASANET: Study Report Improvement of Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools in Tanzania