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Remove All Tax Applications On
Importation, Sale Of Sanitary Pads
…CSOs Petition Lawmakers

Several civil society actors including the Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), the Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) and other women groupings were seen yesterday petitioning their lawmakers to amend the law to suspend importation charges on sanitary pads.
In the petition statement, the women group called on President George Weah to issue an executive order suspending taxes and import duties on sanitary pads in Liberia because according to the petitioners, if acted upon, amongst other things, it will impact women/girls’ access to sanitary pads making it more affordable and accessible.
“As Feminist in Chief, we ask you to publicly stand with the women and girls of Liberia like you have always done, to tackle poverty and to enable women and girls to live, learn, lead and contribute meaningfully in their communities,” the head of communication and mobilization at Community Healthcare Initiative, Nusone Euphemia Perkins read the petition.
Ms. Perkins said the lack of a sanitary pad is a bleeding disgrace and thousands of Liberian women and girls do not have access to sanitary products, they often used old clothes, socks, rags, and tissue which may lead to health complications and called on the Legislature to amend the law.
According to her, a local study reported that the lack of access to sanitary products and services has contributed to girls’ underperformance in schools, teenage pregnancies, early child marriages and even dropout from schools.
“Menstruation is still treated as a taboo thereby contributing to the lack of access to menstrual hygiene education. Menstruation is a normal biological process, and women and girls should not have to suffer for it,” the petitioners said.
A recent UNESCO study on sub-Saharan Africa showed that 1 in 10 girls misses school during their menstrual cycle, and that day missed equals 20% of a school year.
“We ask the government, through the Legislature, to amend the Revenue Code removing all taxes applicable to the importation and sale of sanitary pads in Liberia. We ask the Legislature to consider allocating funds toward Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the next annual budget,” the petition said.
The groups further called on the Ministry of Education to prioritize, invest, and accelerate efforts to ensure the teaching of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools. Ensure that all schools, public or private have sanitary pads available in their bathrooms.
“We ask the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Liberia Revenue Authority to commit to working with the Legislature to implement the amended tax policy, regulate and monitor the price of sanitary pads on the market,” the petition added.
The Executive Director of Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), Naomi Tulay-Solanke added that in 2016, CHI adopted a robust strategy that promoted the implementation of an annual menstrual hygiene campaign as part of CHI’s core projects.
Tulay-Solanke said CHI launched the #pas4girls project, the local production of reusable sanitary pads for women and girls, to make access to sanitary pads more available and sustainable, an eco-friendly solution.
“We will continue to ask schools, public and private offices, businesses, government ministries, and development partners to commit to having sanitary pads in their bathrooms that can be located when and if there is an emergency for a woman 0r girl to use pads. So far, we have gotten 25 businesses and public/private offices to commit,” Mrs. Tulay-Solanke said.
Mrs. Tulay-Solanke said they are asking lawmakers to accept their petition to repeal the tax law and policy, where applicable, to remove taxes on sanitary pads and shift sanitary products from non-medical to medical.
“We are also calling on the First Lady of Liberia to join our voices in advocating for removing taxes on sanitary pads. With the first lady joining us in this fight, collectively, we are a step closer to solving period poverty in Liberia,” she said.
According to her, CHI in particular held numerous engagements at the local and national levels to normalize conversations about menstruation among parents, men, boys, adolescent girls, development partners, and the government and its ministries.
She said in 2017, CHI and other CSOs petitioned the Ministry of Education (MoE) to prioritize and teach menstrual hygiene management in schools as a standalone topic.
“We are also sending a call to the public that women and girls do not only bleed on International Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28. Women and girls bleed every month. Therefore, our individual or collective campaign must go beyond May 28. After May 28, what happens? Women and girls continue to bleed,” she said.
CHI is a feminist-led organization established in 2014 and is working to strengthen and promote healthcare and social services to underserved women and children, focusing on adolescent girls.
Representative Gunpue L. Kargon, of Nimba County who is chairing the House Committee on Claims and Petitions received that petition along with other colleagues and stated that they will lobby to ensure the amendment of the tax policy on sanitary pads.
“This petition looks interesting and I am more interested because I know some of my sisters and other women in classrooms and market grounds are being disgraced,” Representative Kargon responded.
Kargon accentuated that he believes that the initiative is in the interest of the women of Liberia and remains to receive the necessary attention from his colleagues.
Bong County District 6 Representative, Moima Briggs-Mensah said women’s matters are usually taken seriously by some of their colleagues and therefore, the petition will be taken seriously.
“I am a sister and a mother and if you are a man, anything concerning women must concern you too. We, as females, will work with our ‘heforshes’ to ensure that our girls have sanitary pads free,” she assured.

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