Just 12 per cent of Indian women could afford sanitary pads.

Sanitary products will no longer be subject to a 12 per cent goods and services tax in India, in a bid to encourage more girls to attend school during their periods.

Many were outraged when the government declared pads and tampons were non-essential items when it introduced the tax, known as GST, in July 2017. The tax became known as “Lahu ka Lagaan”, or “blood tax” in Hindi, and sparked a viral campaign with thousands of supporters asking for it to be abolished.

According to a 2011 study by market research firm Nielsen, only 12 per cent of India’s 335 million adult women could afford sanitary pads, CNN reported. Campaigners had argued the high cost of sanitary products was one of the biggest barriers to education for girls, who were forced to stay home during their periods every month.

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“I am sure all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100 per cent exempt from tax,” India’s interim finance minister, Piyush Goyal, said at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday, according to Reuters.

 

Many on Twitter welcomed the news the products would be made tax-free.

“We are elated that the govt has decided to exempt sanitary napkins from GST. To see our collective efforts to fight reach a satisfying conclusion encourages us to continue to strive until accessible and affordable sanitary products is a reality for women all over,” wrote Mumbai-based women’s organisation SheSays India, which led the campaign against the tax.

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Image: Getty