October 1, 2018 Print

For poor women in Sri Lanka affording their monthly requirements of sanitary napkins is a struggle due to the high costs imposed by excessive taxes. The group Advocata Institute has succeeded in making these necessities more affordable by ending the 30 percent import tariff on these products.  

“In Sri Lanka only 30 percent women use sanitary napkins and tampons due to cost and cultural reasons,” says Dhananath Fernando, COO of Advocata Institute. “Sixty percent of girls are not attending to school during their menstrual cycles as they can't afford sanitary napkins. The taxes on sanitary napkins totaled 101.2 percent when we first revealed the story.”

Several different taxies are levied on sanitary napkins in Sri Lanka, including a value-added tax, a nation building tax, a ports and airports development tax, and now formerly the import tariff. Many Sri Lankan women currently resort to using old rags as an affordable replacement for hygiene products. The removal of this tax will hopefully make sanitary products more available to them.

“Freedom of trade will make goods and services related to female hygiene more available through this single reform,” said Fernando. “Importantly that will provide the opportunity for better the menstrual hygiene behaviours of females, who make up 52 percent of the population in Sri Lanka.”

This is a win for free markets and women alike. The burdens of excessive taxes which harms their health and education are a thing of the past, thanks to the work of Advocata Institute.