In a much awaited step, the Finance Minister of India, Mr. Piyush Goyal announced that sanitary napkins will be exempted from GST, post the meeting of the GST Council. For a year, the sanitary napkins were taxed at 12%, attracting criticism from girls, women, feminists, and the like-minded people.
The high prices of sanitary napkins hinder girls and women from buying them. Furthermore, unaffordability of sanitary napkins compels them to settle for unhygienic alternatives like cloth and rags due to a lack of knowledge and information, making them vulnerable to infections and diseases. There is hope that the move of the government to exempt sanitary napkins from GST will be a step towards a healthier and hygienic nation. This exemption will also further the cause of education, reducing the number of dropouts of girls from school due to inaccessible hygiene products.
Family Planning Association of India has been working to provide affordable sanitary napkins and also information on menstrual health and hygiene through various programmes. This information along with the affordable GST exempt sanitary napkins will be a huge contribution to maintaining the menstrual health as well as the physical and psychological well-being of girls and women and thus resulting in their empowerment.