Rwanda: Renewed Push to Make Sanitary Pads More Affordable

On May 28, Menstrual Day is observed globally. The awareness day serves to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management and benefit women and girls worldwide.

As a way to make sanitary pads affordable and accessible, the government removed Value Added Tax in December. However, the price remained unchanged and increased in some cases.

Since the removal of VAT did not become as effective as intended, The New Times talked to concerned parties to find out if different strategies can alternatively be used to make pads accessible and more affordable.

For Health Development Initiative that educate and empower the community on health, raising awareness on the need for women to easily access pads among responsible parties.

Diane Uwamariya who talked on behalf of the initiative emphasized that the public also need to be engaged in order to find a collective solution for the problem.

Isabella Akaliza, founder of Period Poverty initiative that aims at supporting school girls to access sanitary pads, thinks there is a lot that can be done if "menstrual hygiene is given the priority it deserves."

"The government can heavily subsidize the production of period products, or allocate some of the national budget towards providing free period products. For Non-Government Organizations, they could equip communities with the resources to produce local products

More plans in the pipeline

In regards to period poverty, Akaliza's initiative has started a new social media campaign dubbed Safe to Bleed that aims at advocating for the use of reusable pads because of their affordability, socio-economic impact, sustainability, and how they are a better alternative for the environment.

It will run for 20 days.

Her initiative also has shifted to helping school girls, since schools are closed, to hospitals where over 25p packs have been donated in one month.

More initiatives such as IMatter initiative have stepped up to confront period poverty by supporting women with free pads.

IMatter initiative has collected 3,000 sanitary pads and is expecting 2000 more which will all be donated. Divine Ingabire, Co-founder and Executive Director told The New Times that more campaigns to get the public involved in donating and raising awareness are underway.

According to UNICEF, over 18 per cent of girls in Rwanda miss on average 3 to 5 days of school because they can't access menstrual products.

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