Women and girls in Namibia will no longer be charged a luxury tax rate of 15% of value-added tax (VAT) on sanitary products.
The Namibian government eliminated VAT on sanitary products — also known as the “tampon tax” — on March 17. The announcement follows a motion set in place by the deputy minister of information and communication technology, Emma Theofelus, on March 3. The exemption will take effect in the 2022/2023 financial year, according to Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi.
“I wish to announce this to enhance affordability by the girl child and urge suppliers and retailers to pass on this relief to consumers once enacted,” Shiimi told the Namibian.
Menstruating women and girls worldwide experience period poverty and are unable to afford sanitary products or access the resources necessary to manage their periods. More than half of all households in Namibia (73%) don’t have sufficient handwashing facilities. What’s more, only 27% of people across sub-Saharan African countries have access to basic sanitation.
Poor menstrual health has lasting negative physical and mental health impacts on women and girls around the world. They miss school and work every day because they can’t manage their periods, while period poverty increases feelings of shame and embarrassment, anxiety and depression, and can contribute to a lack of focus in school and the workplace.
“Period poverty is one of the undignifying processes women and young ladies have to experience,” Theofelus told the Namibian after first introducing the tax exemption earlier in March. “Your period is such a natural process and not something they can opt-out of. There are not enough social and economic circumstances to create safety for young women.”
Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi tabled the N$67.9-billion budget for 2021/2022 financial year today in the National Assembly. Topical were the abrogation of value-added tax on sanitary pads in the next financial year, increased sin tax & additional allocation gender to fight GBV. pic.twitter.com/YMRLkWKCtf— MICT Namibia (@MICTNamibia) March 17, 2021
The tampon tax remains ubiquitous in mody places but several countries on the African continent are making progress on the issue. South Africa declared menstrual products tax-free in 2018 and committed to providing free sanitary pads to girls in school in 2019. Kenya also started providing free sanitary pads to schoolgirls in 2018.
Menstrual equity advocates continue to push all countries to remove the tampon tax and normalize providing free sanitary products.