Menstrual cycle commonly known as periods is one of the most important changes in a female’s life and it requires a lot of attention to make it a better experience for women in underprivileged societies.
Many women because of lack of knowledge and accessibility to sanitary pads and other female hygiene products suffer a lot and it should be treated as an important thing to change. Just like every other human life necessity, sanitary pads should also be considered and provided as essentials for everyday use. Every woman needs sanitary pads not much less anything than food and shelter. It is due to the culture our society has developed to ignore this sensitive topic and choose to keep it undiscussed.
Can this be India’s reality?
An average woman spends around 2535 days of her life during periods which is a large part of a life cycle, approximately 7 years of the entire human life. A basic human necessity should be provided at a basic cost to every person to support people at all corners of society. In a country like ours, where approximately 45% of the population is female, it has been faced and proven from time to time via various surveys that the major portion of the entire population faces period particularly. The general belief is that females living in rural areas, less educated or wealthy people are likely to be blamed and suspected, however this poverty is found to be more dominant in the higher society. Women, as well as men in the higher society, also do not find the topic of female hygiene important enough to be highlighted and supported. The more we talk about the importance of female hygiene, the better things will become in the future.
According to a survey held in May 2019 in seven popular cities of India which includes both urban and rural areas, a wide majority of the females, approximately 53% percent find female hygiene products to be overpriced.
As a solution to these, most of them advised providing sanitary pads to be given free to all females as a part of the necessities of female life. Under the GST, sanitary pads weren't considered a tax-free essential item, thus making them unaffordable for over 70% menstruating women. Various organisations and individuals have haunted the fight against taxation of sanitary napkins.SheSays India, founded by social activist and United Nation's SDG Ambassador Trisha Shetty, launched campaign #LahuKaLagaan in 2016 to advocate for tax-free sanitary napkins.Petition filed by lawmaker Sushmita Dev, also garnered mass support and over 4,000,000 signatures to demand tax-free menstrual products.
Menstrual health and hygiene have also found a voice in pop culture, with films like Padman (released in 2017) bringing the conversation around pads and menstruation to the mainstream.
Delhi Finance Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on 21 July 2018, said that sanitary napkins, among other things, had been exempted from the Goods and Services Taxes (GST). Sanitary napkins were taxed 12 percent under the one-year-old GST regime (2017), which attracted serious criticism from various quarters.
This is great news for people who menstruate all across the country. The government has requested manufacturers of this product to transfer the whole benefit to the end-user, a move during a positive direction.
This brings us back to a basic question — is GST an exemption a boon or a bane? The logical answer appears to be that having a lower/nil rate on any particular product is good, because it reduces the general cost of the merchandise, making it less costly for the end consumer.
Why the sanitary pads are still so expensive despite of it being tax free?
Does a lower rate always translate to a reduction within the end price to the consumer? Maybe not.The lower output rate on any product doesn't necessarily mean that the embedded tax cost within the manufacturing of the merchandise and its supply chain has reduced.
Let us take the instance of medical services. While medical services provided by hospitals are exempt — susceptible to nil GST rate — input and input services employed by hospitals to supply medical services attract GST rates of 28% or 18% or 12%. Land taken on lease for running a hospital and annual maintenance services attracts GST of 18%, surgical equipment, and consumables utilized in operation theatres attract GST of 18% or 12%, air-conditioners utilized in hospital attract GST at the rate of 28%.
Hospitals have a little output GST liability on account of the sale of medicines to out-patients. Thus, within the absence of adequate output GST liability, input GST paid on aforesaid goods and services employed by hospitals adds to the value of medical services and doesn't make them cheaper.
Similarly, within the case of sanitary napkins, while the ultimate GST rate has been reduced to nil, the manufacturers will still have to pay tax on cotton (5 per cent), aseptic packaging paper (12 per cent), the packaging plastic sheet (18 per cent) and advertising (18 per cent). When it was under GST, the manufacturers got input tax credit (ITC), which they can’t now. Therefore, even with the nil GST rate on sanitary napkins, there might not be a desired reduction within the overall price to the buyer.
The sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and other products available in the market are easily accessible but the price is one important factor that limits the number of users in routine. Female hygiene products remain out of reach for a vast majority of products, with millions in impoverished areas of rural portion of the country using rags, sawdust, or even ashes which becomes a reason for numerous intimate infections.
The lack of menstrual hygiene has been linked to girls dropping out of school and lower productivity in the workspace. If women had easy and accessible assess to necessities, then they would be less likely to skip things out during their periods.
The cost of a sanitary pad is high and reportedly less important than any other daily requirement of a family. Moreover, it not only brings financial issues to the table but also drags behind a strong feeling of stress, which can lead to health problems and self-esteem. Instead of multiple and generous efforts along with constant awareness programs being conducted by the state government in different parts of the country, 89% of the women still use cloth for their periods. Out of the major section that uses cloth for periods, approximately around 14 to 16% of the females report frequent urine and bladder infections.
Now it’s time to look into biodegradable and eco-friendly options as well. Using reusable products for female hygiene is an effective way to combat both financial as well as medical issues with one step. Studies have also shown that using reusable sanitary pads instead of regular plastic pads reduces the risk of toxic shock syndrome abbreviated as TSS which is caused due to super absorbency of tampons.
There are many advantages of using organic reusable pads in place of regular plastic pads out of which reducing the carbon printis the most effective. While usual regular pads are difficult to decompose and take years to break down to smaller components, reusable organic pads can be used again without the hassle of throwing or decomposing it. Since these organic products are made up of sustainably sourced materials that do not pollute the soil and water and at the same time ensure low carbon dependency.
Making pads tax free is something people must have thought, but it has now come as a success with the initiative led by Himalayan hemp. Watch the video to find out how Himalayan hemp pads can change the perspective.
Himalayan Hemp sanitary pads are one of the best options available in the market for reusable and organic sanitary pads. Hemp being reusable brings comfort and hygienealong with three times absorption. Hemp blended with cotton increases the durability as well as absorption of the sanitary pads along with the antibacterial propertyof the cloth. These pads are good for long travels and the blend with cotton provides comfort as well as higher absorption to females. Since these do not contain any amount of plastic in the pads, the products can be easily decomposed after 6-8 years.
Benefits of using the Himalayan hemp reusable sanitary pads are:
1. Organic:By using organic pads you not only help your body but also the environment. The sanitary pads at Himalayan hemp are 100% organic and irritation-free. The pads are made from hemp and as extremely eco friendly and efficient in serving its purpose. With menstrual culture evolving in the country, this change can prove a boon to society.
2. Reusable:We all know how challenging it is sometimes to even get a single pad in a country where rural societies are still underprivileged. The reason for sanitary bags being reusable is one of the greatest ideas that have come to ensure good female hygiene without any pressure on women and the organizations working for women health care. Sanitary pads at Himalayan hemp are reusable up to 12 times and one can just simply wash it and use it again the very next day in their menstrual cycle.
3. UV resistant:These pads are UV resistant and will not have any bad impact on your health when exposed to the sun. Thus their quality doesn't degrade when exposed in the direct sunlight and you can feel rest assured for using it multiple times.
4. Antifungal and bacterial: Pads should always be made in a way that they do not hamper the skin in any way and needs to be total anti-fungal and bacterial which the pads at Himalayan hemp are designed like. With these sanitary pads, you need not look after your hygiene as they will take care of it with the quality they are designed with.
5. Cost-efficient:There is no denying the fact that there is a large population of women in India who cannot even afford a single pad and hence Himalayan hemp have designed the pads with the most quality and a genuine price. We understand the need of the hour and want to make sure that every woman can enjoy good female hygiene and intimate care.
You can get them at www.himalayanhemp.in.
Menstruation is a normal process and is required to be treated as one. No wonder it requires a lot of effort but isn’t it worth it considering the number of women in the society. The urban areas still face a lot of challenges when it comes to menstrual care and hygiene but all we need to do is take the first step. If you wish to even change one thing in the society for underprivileged women, give your share in it and buy the Himalayan hemp sanitary pads and donate in women for need. Not only they are comforting but are reusable.
What do we aim for?
Making sure that women get the right help in the most difficult times is one of the greatest works, and we at Himalayan hemp are working towards making a big difference in society. One cannot deny the fact that one cannot alone change the world and we pledge to spread the message and understanding to people out there in hope of making a better society for women in every city, village, and area.