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News: Govt to finance hygiene modes for disadvantaged women students through import tax reduction, exemption

Credit: © Chris Magura for UNICEF’s efforts to changing social stigmas surrounding menstruation in Sudan

Addis Abeba – Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance has accepted research-backed appeal by the Addis Abeba Women, Children and Social Affairs Bureau to allocate permanent government budget to provide hygienic and affordable menstrual pads for economically disadvantaged women students seeking support through reduced taxes for finished products and exempt taxes for inputs used to produce female hygiene products.

Accordingly, finished products imported from abroad will have the taxes reduced from 30% to 15% and exempted from the 10% Surtax, which will come into effect from 11 September this year. Furthermore the inputs required for domestic production of feminine hygiene products are exempted from customs duty with the aim to encourage the increase in production and supply at affordable prices.

A letter by the Ministry sent to the Bureau stated that the latter’s research has confirmed that due to the rise in prices, economically disadvantaged women students who need support miss out on schools due to challenges of hygiene modes affordability, which creates a gap in their academic performances.

According to research by Link Ethiopia, originally GondarLink, the first full and official school link between an English and Ethiopian secondary school, “1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school when she’s on her period.”With menstruation lasting an average 5-7 days per month, that means a girl could be missing 60 days of school a year. In some cases, girls drop out of school altogether.

“Puberty, and starting your period, is difficult for girls anywhere in the world. For the girls we support this phase is even harder as many cannot afford disposable pads. Even when they can, many schools do not have toilets, so there is nowhere to change during the school day. This leads to girls choosing not to go to school while on their period, and their educations suffers,” Link Ethiopia, which runs programs designed to enable disadvantaged children to go to school including providing hygiene packs for school girls, said.

The Addis Abeba Women, Children and Social Affairs Bureau said that in order to solve this problem permanently, it has been requesting the government to allocate a permanent budget and provide tax exemptions to the products; the Bureau has been monitoring the progress so far.

Understanding the matter and the attention it needs, the Ministry of Finance has informed the Bureau a letter that it has allowed the tax reduction and exemption.AS

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