Maneka Gandhi’s response comes as an online petition by Congress MP Sushmita Dev garnered over 2 lakh supporters.

Tax free wings petition gets heard Maneka asks Jaitley to cut taxes on eco-friendly sanitary padsChange.org
news Health Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 16:51

With the online petition asking for sanitary pads to be made tax-free gathering momentum, it’s also being heard in ministerial corridors. Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has responded positively on Thursday to the petition started by Congress MP Sushmita Dev, which has garnered 2,09,137 supporters so far.  

In a response on Change.org, Gandhi said that she had written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to consider 100% tax exemption for eco-friendly sanitary pads.

Calling the issue an important one faced by women and girls, Gandhi acknowledged the stigma and embarrassment attached to menstruation as well as the “challenge in availability of safe, hygienic and low-cost sanitary napkins.”

Saying that such a scenario puts women at risk of hygiene hazards and leads to many school girls dropping out, Gandhi said that that there is a need to “make affordable sanitary napkins available to all women to ensure their health and well-being.”

Asking Jaitley to consider the tax exemption, Gandhi said: “Once lower cost options are made available to women, we could consider slowly moving them towards using bio-degradable pads and we could also encourage the manufacturers to shift towards them.”

She also said that such a tax relief would help towards causes such as ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and ‘Swachh Bharat’, as well as encourage more girls to continue school education and women to join the workforce.

Also read: Now, a politician wants to make sanitary pads tax free! We’re not surprised it’s a woman MP

Speaking to TNM earlier, Sushmita had said that making sanitary pads tax-free is merely a beginning and will not solve the issue to accessibility.

An MP from Silchar in Assam, Sushmita had explained that there is a need to build a sustainable model which would bolster awareness and accessibility, to back the affordability.

“What I can do in my own constituency is raise capital funding for vending machines to be installed in schools and public toilets,” she had said.

With the first round of funding supported by her through the MPLADS funds, Sushmita plans to involve self-help groups to make the sanitary pads locally and replenish the vending machines.

“This will help involve the community. These pads will also be much cheaper than the ones manufactured by big brands. It has to be a sustainable, ongoing thing,” she had said.

Also read: Meet the Kerala Collective trying to make sustainable menstruation a reality

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