- Due to tax considerations, At the moment, the cost of a sanitary pad in Liberia is L$300 or US$2.
Liberia-taxation witnessed a recent viral report that exposed the high cost of Menstrual hygiene, stating that adolescent girls and women across Liberia now find it difficult to properly care for their menstruation.
Reportedly, Africataxreview.com gathered that it has gotten so bad that young women are forced to use unhygienic old rags to manage their period, which makes them vulnerable to certain forms of sicknesses and pungent social injustice.
Ensuring the affordability, availability, and accessibility of menstrual hygiene supplies is one of the most vital and complicated legislation about to be reexamined by the 54th Legislature.
To move this process along, the House of Representatives has been petitioned by the Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI) to make menstrual health and hygiene precedence by discontinuing all taxes and import duties on sanitary pads.
While reading the petition, Nusone Perkins, CHI head of communication and mobilization highlighted the inconvenience created by the high cost of sanitary pads for women across Liberia.
She added that the lack of access to sanitary products and services has led to girls’ underperformance in school, teenage pregnancy, early child marriages, and school dropouts.
“Menstruation is a normal biological process; therefore, women and girls should not be denied access to hygienic products. We are here to ask our lawmakers to publicly stand with the women and girls of Liberia, to tackle period poverty by removing taxes and import duties on sanitary pads, which will make the product more affordable and accessible for women and girls, especially those who cannot afford it,” she stated.
She pleaded with the government to amend the Revenue Code, removing all taxes applicable to the importation and sale of sanitary pads in Liberia and asked that the Legislature consider allocating funds toward Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the next annual budget.
A recent UNESCO study on sub-Saharan Africa showed that 1 in 10 girls misses school during their menstrual cycle, and the missed days are equivalent to 20% of a school year.
The groups, therefore, called on the Ministry of Education to prioritize, invest in, and expedite efforts to ensure the teaching of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools and ensure that all schools — public and private — have sanitary pads available in their bathrooms.
Liberia-Taxation: Comments from Legislators
After receiving the petition, Nimba County District #4 Representative, Gunpue L. Kargon, who is also Chairman of the House Committee on Claims and Petitions, and his colleagues said they will lobby to ensure the reformation of the tax policy on sanitary pads.
Rep. Kargon expressed disgust over the embarrassment faced by adolescents in classrooms and young women on market grounds and mentioned that he looks forward to receiving the necessary attention from his colleagues.
Also, Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah noted how issues about women aren’t usually taken seriously by some of their colleagues but hope this petition will be.
“I am a sister and a mother and if you are a man, anything concerning women must concern you too. We, as females, will work with our ‘he for she’ colleagues to work and ensure that our girls have free sanitary pads,” she said.
Liberia-Taxation: Community Stakeholder Reaction
The Executive Director of CHI, Naomi Tulay-Solanke noted that all they ask is that the lawmakers agree to remove taxes on sanitary pads and move sanitary products from non-medical to medical.
She then called upon the First Lady of Liberia to join them in their fight to solve period poverty in Liberia.
She also enlightened the public that Women and girls bleed every month, not only on International Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28th. Therefore, their individual or collective campaign must go beyond this particular day.
What is CHI
Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI) is a registered non-governmental organization established in 2014 that is working to strengthen and further healthcare and social services to underserved women and children.
CHI has established Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) clubs in 5 of the 15 counties, focusing on menstrual hygiene management. The May 31 petition of the House was led by several top civil society organizations including CHI, and Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI).
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