South Africa declares menstrual products tax-free

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Last week, South Africa announced that menstrual products will be tax-free from now on. Tito Mboweni, Finance Minister, confirmed that from April 2019 consumers will stop paying the value-added tax (VAT) of 15% on sanitary pads in South Africa and they will be also distributed in public schools.  

Activists, female members of Parliament and academics have all been persuading the government to make menstrual products more affordable. In early October, students rallied using the hashtag #BecauseWeBleed to encourage the government to abolish the tax.  

The prices of sanitary products are very often too high for women of low-income, ultimately costing them at least R600 (around $111 USD) a year, according to the Sunday Times. Additionally, as many as 30% of young girls miss school because they cannot afford these products.  

Mboweni said: “Zero-rating these products targets low-income households and restores the dignity of our people”.  

South Africa is not the only country affected by the tampon tax, often known as the “pink tax”, named after the frequent marketing of the colour pink towards women. There are still some places where the 'pink tax' has been implemented. Malaysia, India, and Australia all took steps to ditch the tax in the summer of 2018. 

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