Rwanda waives VAT on sanitary pads

On 11 December 2019 at 03:00

The Government of Rwanda has added sanitary pads and tampons to the list of goods that are VAT exempted. The decision which was taken as a way of facilitating girls and women access the essential hygiene products at affordable cost was announced on Tuesday, December 10th, by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.

The decision pleased a lot of people given the fact that a lot of girls and women particularly in rural areas had difficulties accessing sanitary pads due to poverty.

It is a debate that has been ongoing for a very long time in social circles and that has for a long time been a subject of advocacy by feminist groups.

Economic expert, Teddy Kaberuka says this is a wonderful decision for the target market because it will ease the affordability of sanitary pads deducting 18% on the total cost.

“Waving VAT on sanitary pads will benefit women and girls but given the current economic situation the cost might not considerably reduce. If for example, one woman bought a pack of sanitary pads per month on Rwf 1000, with the 18% off, it will now cost Rwf 820.”

WaterAid recently commended the Government of Rwanda efforts in supporting young girls during their periods and mentioned a program dubbed ‘Icyumba cy’umukobwa’ that was launched by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion in schools around the country.

As part of this program, schools offer a room equipped with a bed, sanitary pads, towels, soap, water and painkillers to girls who unexpectedly have their periods at school.

Girls from disadvantaged households also receive free sanitary pads from the school until their periods are over.

Maurice Kwizera, WaterAid Country Manager in Rwanda says that girls who live in poor families should be provided with free sanitary pads, the same way poor families are offered free medical insurance, especially if they are registered in the first ‘Ubudehe’ category.

A 2014 UN report showed that at least 1 in 10 girls living in Sub-Saharan countries has missed school because of menstruations.

A lot of families in Sub-Saharan Africa have no means to purchase sanitary pads and it explains why young girls miss school.

It is estimated that those girls miss 20% of their education and some even drop out of school completely.

The Government of Rwanda has added sanitary pads and tampons to the list of goods that are VAT exempted.