In a landmark judgment on Saturday, the government of India finally exempted sanitary pads of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The application of the tax on sanitary products has been in the eye of controversy since the launch of the GST in 2017. Sanitary products were taxed at 12% — a move that was highly criticised by campaigners, activists, and masses alike.
India has a population of more than 355 million menstruating women, 88% of whom use unsafe sanitary products to manage their periods due to lack of awareness and capital access.
Under the GST, sanitary pads were not considered a tax-free essential item, thus making them unaffordable for over 70% menstruating women.
Various organisations and individuals have taken up the fight against taxation of sanitary napkins.
SheSays India, founded by social activist and United Nation's SDG Ambassador Trisha Shetty, launched a campaign #LahuKaLagaan in 2016 to advocate for tax-free sanitary napkins.
Individual efforts, like the 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 has also found voice in pop culture, with films like Padman bringing the conversation around pads and menstruation to the mainstream.
A welcome culmination of multiple efforts, the decision of making pads tax-free was celebrated across platforms and forums where people expressed their relief and joy at the move.
Huge win for us all -Sanitary napkins to be exempt from GST!— Trisha Shetty (@TrishaBShetty) July 21, 2018
Thank you, GSTCouncil for doing what’s right by the women of India & dropping the #lahukalagaan@SheSaysIndia had filed a PIL over this issue along with other prayers in 2017.https://t.co/JjUmIRPtn8
After a year-long fight #GSTCouncil has abolished tax on sanitary pads! Feminine Hygiene is now tax free! Lives will be saved! Thank you to the FM, the Government of India and the GST council. Also, take a bow @TrishaBShetty and @SheSaysIndiapic.twitter.com/BGwd2xdGCl— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) July 21, 2018
#SanitaryNapkins are not a luxury, but a necessity. Really glad to know that they are exempted from taxation. 👏😊— Himansh Kohli (@himanshkohli) July 21, 2018