Remove 13% VAT from menstrual products in Nepal
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Dear Hon. Ministers,
Pad2Go, a social enterprise working in the menstrual health sector of Nepal, has started a campaign to remove the 13% VAT from menstrual products. In light of it, I am writing to you regarding the current levy of 13% VAT on menstrual products in Nepal and its discriminatory financial burden on menstruating individuals. (Information on Period Poverty in Nepal)
Menstrual cycle is a biological process that occurs in individuals who are born with a uterus. However, many young girls and women across the country have had to face social stigma and discrimination due to a normal biological process. Recognizing the challenges posed by menstruating individuals in Nepal, the Supreme Court declared Chhaupadi Pratha illegal in 2005 and subsequently it was criminalized by the Criminal Code (Act) applicable from 2018.
Besides the cultural taboos attached with menstruation in Nepal, affordable access to menstrual health products is also a major obstacle in promoting safe menstrual health management for individuals of all ages. Acknowledging this, the government in the past two financial budgets has announced the provision of free sanitary pads across all government schools. Although this is a welcome step, it limits access to sanitary pads only in and during school premises and timings. Affordable access of menstrual health products, at home or in office spaces for working individuals, can be a major financial burden forcing many to use unsafe products.
(Menstrual Math: How expensive are periods in Nepal?)
In order to combat the challenges posed by affordable access of menstrual products, many countries including India and Maldives in South Asia, have removed the VAT from period products. In Nepal, the VAT Act as per schedule 1 allows for exemption of VAT from essential items such as condoms and contraceptives to ensure widespread affordability and access.
(South Asian countries and their efforts in VAT removal)
The Constitution of Nepal, 2015 as a fundamental right under Article 38(2) affirms the Rights of Women and includes the right to safe motherhood and reproductive health as a part of this right. Lack of access to affordable and safe menstrual products has the ability to adversely impact the reproductive health of individuals across the country by pushing many to use unsafe products during their menstrual cycle.
I urge you to ensure safe reproductive and menstrual health of all individuals across the country by removing the VAT on all menstrual products to guarantee its affordability and access.
(Nepali Version of the petition will be released shortly)
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